Home repair grants available for Malta residents

MALTA – The Malta community can’t agree on whether to allow new affordable housing in town, but town leaders have found a way to thread the needle: helping low-income residents who already live in Malta stay in their homes.

The Town Board is using $125,000 of the federal American Rescue Plan funds for critical home repairs, such as roofs or furnaces. The town is partnering with Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, a nonprofit founded in 2003.

Applications can be picked up at Town Hall or downloaded from the town website.

“The money is limited so they should apply right away,” said Executive Direction Michelle Larkin. “If you’re talking roofs, there’s only so many of them I can do. That’s the big ticket item.”

She anticipates completing 10 to 12 projects in Malta with the funds.

Those applying should not hesitate to also ask about other projects for which they need help, she added. Bathroom modifications for handicap access are a common need.

“I can’t tell you how many times people have said, ‘I haven’t been able to shower.’ That’s actually a lot of our work – home modifications that allow older adults to remain in their home. That and ramps and roofs is a lot of what we do,” Larkin said.

The ramps are sometimes an emergency: an elderly resident, after an injury or illness, can’t be discharged back to their home if they can’t walk up their front steps.

“Getting in and out of the house is a big struggle. Ramps become very critical,” Larkin said.

Ballston Spa resident Gigi Crannell turned to Rebuilding Together on a Sunday afternoon because she could not get her husband home from Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital without a ramp.

He had suffered a massive stroke and needed a wheelchair to get around. He could get discharged by Thursday, if he could get into his house. Crannell’s boss, an engineer, was confident she could build the ramp, but they needed supplies urgently.

Larkin responded to her email in 10 minutes. The supplies were delivered Tuesday, and neighbors joined Crannell and her boss to build the ramp immediately. Her husband was able to come home on time.

“It was a very, very difficult time. They made it so much easier for me,” Crannell said. “The load was taken off my back, knowing I would be able to bring him home.”

Larkin started the agency after helping rebuild houses in other states.

“On the way home I thought, maybe we should do this in Saratoga County,” she said. “Sometimes people think, oh Saratoga County is very rich. But there’s poorer people everywhere you turn. You don’t know what your neighbors are struggling with.”