CLEVELAND — Home Repair Resource Center is distributing grant money to help senior homeowners repair their homes in Cleveland's Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood.
Even on a block where the sign out front declares it "A Model Block," some homes still need a little love.
"Over the years, it gradually started changing," said Gwen Graffenreed, thinking back on her 30 years living on East 122nd Street in the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood.
East 122nd Street, Cleveland, where new grant money could help senior homeowners stay in their homes longer by helping them handle small repair projects before they become too large.
The problem is sometimes the love takes money.
"As you can see, these back stairs weren't put together properly," said Home Repair Resource Center Financial and Senior Programs Coordinator Wesley Walker. "They're not safe. They're going to fall apart."
Walker shows the back stairs he thinks his grant money could fix, creating a sturdier set of stairs for the senior residents inside.
That's where Walker's Buckeye Area Senior Incentive Grant, funded by the St. Luke's Foundation. The grant is looking to help fund 10 to 15 projects around the Buckeye Shaker Neighborhood.
"People don't want a hand out, but they do want a hand," said Walker.
This homeowner is fixing up the front stairs because HRRC's grant is able to take care of his back stairs.
The grant isn't intended to cover full renovations because that would cost too much. This money will make it a little easier for seniors to complete small projects around their homes, like broken sidewalks or crumbling stairs.
Walker highlights one project where the owner is fixing the front stoop because the grant is covering the cost of fixing the back stairs.
A sign at the corner of East 122nd Street and Buckeye Road calls the street "A Model Block."
"We'll see that front walk is really dangerous and we'll mention that to him and he says, 'Well, I'll put my own money in with your money and let's get this done right," said Walker.
The grant has already helped fix the sewer lines in a home down the street and Walker has a handful of other projects he's still looking to do.
Only homeowners ages 62 and older are eligible, excluding landlords. Walker says he's focusing on keeping aging residents in their home as long as possible.
"One of the biggest pieces of aging in place is the place," said Walker.
For Graffenreed and her neighbors, a little money to make the place better goes a long way.
"It gives them incentive to want to stay in the community," said Graffenreed.
Because Walker says the seniors are needed there.
"The seniors in this neighborhood, they're the anchors," said Walker. "They anchor the values, they anchor this neighborhood."
This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.