Watching volunteers install vinyl siding to his midcentury home, Thomas Robinson said the house he’s lived in for over 50 years is starting to look new again.
“I feel good,” he said while inspecting the crew’s progress, which was already well ahead of schedule. “It’s like a whole different house.”
Robinson, 74, a lifelong Huntsville resident, is the latest recipient of the City of Huntsville’s Deferred Home Maintenance Program. The program, which uses Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, assists eligible senior, disabled and low-to-moderate income citizens with exterior home repairs.
A former backhoe operator at Joe Money Machinery, Robinson still puts on his work clothes each day, even though he retired years ago. Described as “sharp as a tack and a really good fellow,” Robinson needed extra help with house projects on Delia Lane in North Huntsville.
After Robinson’s son made a call to the City’s Community Development Office, Housing Specialist Supervisor Rodney McCallie said his team got to work. The office recently completed a new roof for Robinson, with plans to do more.
“These aren’t just construction projects,” McCallie said. “They’re mission projects.”
National Community Development Week falls April 10-14, 2023. The five-day annual event spotlights the impact CDBG funds have on communities across the country. For the City, it’s also a chance to showcase how Community Development uses the CDBG program to help strengthen neighborhoods in Huntsville.
Since the CDBG program was founded 49 years ago, Community Development Manager Scott Erwin said the City has received $65 million in federal funding. Those dollars, thanks to the assistance of volunteer laborers, go right back into our community.
Erwin gave credit to Community Development volunteers for making these projects possible.
“What makes this so special, what makes this happen, are the volunteers behind us,” he said.
Neighbors helping neighbors
In addition to the Deferred Home Maintenance Program, Community Development uses federal funds to support public service agencies, economic development initiatives, a popular down payment assistance program and more.
City Administrator John Hamilton said Community Development is unique because they spend each day in neighborhoods throughout our City, finding citizens who need help and soliciting volunteers to make it happen.
“It’s neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “It’s people who want to make a difference in their community, make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Devyn Keith, who represents District 1 on the Huntsville City Council, was part of the celebration at Robinson’s house. He said the work Community Development is doing will have a lasting impact on the district.
“The renaissance we’re seeing in the new Northwest starts right here with community,” he said. “As much as I love cutting ribbons for every business, I love this more than anything.”