Commentary:Rebuilding for Safety

Commentary:Rebuilding for Safety

To the Editor:

With limited vision and hearing, Ginny* worries about tripping in the home that she’s lived in for more 74 years. Esther, a 93-year-old with heart disease, needs handrails to hold on to for safety. John, a 71-year old whose roof caved in during the earthquake, could use a variety of repairs including better lighting since he can’t see well.

On Saturday, April 26, these Alexandria homeowners will receive these upgrades and more during National Rebuilding Day. Throughout this national day of service, more than 600 Rebuilding Together Alexandria volunteers will be fanning across the city to help limited income homeowners make repairs and upgrades to their homes — including fixing leaks, securing steps, and installing new doors and windows. But new this year, these homeowners will also be getting a 22 point health and safety check.

In partnership with the National Center for Healthy Housing, we developed the Health and Safety Check List, which includes the top 22 items that directly contribute to healthy and safe housing. These 22 identified hazards are common in older housing and pose significant risks to occupants’ health and safety. They also often disproportionately affect low-income and elderly persons.

Before going to a client’s home, our volunteers will receive this check list as part of their overall list of repair tasks. Examples of checks they will perform include making sure the client has: no electrical hazards, rooms free of tripping hazards, working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, proper ventilation, adequate lighting, no active water leaks and serious moisture issues, and grab bars and handrails.

Over the years, Rebuilding Together Alexandria — a nonprofit dedicated to creating and preserving affordable housing — has helped thousands of homeowners maintain their homes, so they don’t have to make a choice between buying food and making a repair. Now we will be more focused than ever on health and safety issues. Equipped with the new check list, our army of volunteers will make a significant difference in the lives of our clients and health of our city.

If you need your house repaired or wish to volunteer, visit or call 703-836-1021.

It is Rebuilding Together Alexandria’s policy to not disclose full names.