PUTNAM COUNTY — Cold houses in the winter, no running water, broken windows and leaky roofs that required buckets to catch the winter. These were all issues Putnam County residents were living with before Putnam County Habitat for Humanity Critical Home repair workers came and helped fix the homes to make them livable.

Putnam County Habitat for Humanity Critical Home Repair has completed 20 projects since they officially completed their first project two years ago on Labor Day weekend.

“The response to this project has been overwhelming,” said Chas Myers, who chairs the PCHFH Critical Home Repair program. PCHH Director Matt Rau said the majority of their applicants have been elderly women on fixed incomes.

“We have an increasing aging population on fixed incomes,” Mr. Rau said, adding 41% of the homes in Putnam County are at least 60 years old.

“Many of them were living in their home with a spouse, and when they lose that spouse their income drops and they often are unable to afford the needed repairs to their homes,” Mr. Rau said.

The Critical Home Repair program is structured around a sliding scale allowing the participant to pay back the percentage of costs they can afford.

Mr. Meyers said the people have been very good in paying the amount billed by PCHFH.

“We have had 14 of the 20 recipients of repair work either pay back the entire amount, or pay early on their projects,” he said.

The projects completed by the program have including replacing roofs, replacing broken windows, bathroom renovations, basement wall repairs, fixing a furnace, bringing running water to a home, and replacing siding.

“We have done projects in numerous communities and surrounding rural areas,” said Mr. Rau. “When we build new homes, we are restricted to building in communities with water and sewer systems because of the high cost a well and septic system would add to a home.”

Mr. Rau said this program has allowed the HFH to have a much broader outreach.

Mr. Meyers said they partner with numerous grant programs to help the homeowner and lower the investment required by the HFH program this has included getting USDA grants, USDA loans, CHIP grants, donations from Paulding Putnam and funding from United Way of Putnam County.

Although the total cost of the 20 projects so far has been $128,591, the local PCHFH has subsidized only $35,000 of these amounts. “We’ve also been blessed with many area contractors willing to work with us and work us into their schedules,” Mr. Meyers said.

“This has been an eye-opening experience of some of the living conditions of some residents in this county,” Mr. Meyers said.

Both Mr. Rau and Mr. Meyers said they have begun their annual Square Foot fundraiser.

“We hope people continue to support the Putnam County Habitat for Humanity programs,” Mr. Rau said. “We work hard to make the money we have go a long way to keep people in affordable.

Since Putnam County Habitat for Humanity started a little over ten years ago, it has benefited 44 families. Projects have included 11 new home builds, one whole home rehab, and 20 critical home repairs. Additionally, tithes have built 12 homes in Haiti, Kenya, and the Philippines.