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By SHAINA STOCKTON
To make sure all area residents have the opportunity for a healthy living environment, Rooftop of Virginia offers help through an Indoor Plumbing and Rehabilitation Program.
The goal is to provide assistance to locals who either do not have indoor plumbing or have failing water delivery or waste disposal systems.
“We believe that everyone should be entitled to a home that fulfills basic human needs,” said program coordinator Opal Kegley.
According to Kegley, the program has served individuals in need for many years. Each year, Rooftop applies for a grant to help build new houses for these applicants.
The program can also offer loans, with payments depending on income. “One client pays $1 each month, and another pays $169,” she said. “It all depends on their income.” Kegley noted.
However, starting this year, minimum payments will be no less than $25 per month.
The program serves applicants from Grayson County, Carroll County and the City of Galax.
The houses that are built are all similar in appearance, but the size depends on the need of the client. “Typically, the houses have two or three bedrooms,” said Kegley. “Each house is a fully complete turn-key job. Everything is included: well, septic and any additional needs for clients with disabilities.”
On average, Rooftop processes four or five of these applications each year. Unfortunately, there is not always enough funding to help everyone who is eligible.
There is usually enough grant money distributed to complete two projects per cycle. All eligible applicants are kept on file until they can be helped, Kegley said.
After the grant is distributed and contractors are lined up, it takes around 60 days for the house to be built, or 90 if there are two projects, said Kegley.
If the client has nowhere to stay in the meantime, they are temporarily rented an apartment, she said.
During her time working for Rooftop, Kegley has seen first-hand the dire conditions that some of the applicants were living in. “We had one client a while back who was living in an eight-by-ten shed with no heat,” she said. “She just covered up the best she could at night and hoped that she would wake up in the morning.”
Because it was a special case, additional contributions were received. Today, the woman is living comfortably in a safe home. “She loves her house, and is as happy as can be,” Kegley smiled.
Eager to help other locals in need, Kegley is ready for the next step in this year’s cycle. Rooftop is in the process of getting permits to build the next two houses: one in Grayson and one in Carroll.
• For an application for this program, visit the Intake Office at Rooftop of Virginia’s main office, located at
206 N. Main St. in downtown Galax. For additional information, contact Kegley at 236-7131, ext. 229, or e-mail email@example.com.