Tulsa World: Sears Heroes at Home 2016

Larry Brazeal’s home may be old, but it’s full of youthful memories.

“I can sit here and remember me and my dad digging the holes for those trees back in 1960-something,” Brazeal said.

He and his wife, Gwen Brazeal, moved into his childhood home in 2002 after his parents died.

Health issues forced him and his wife to retire early, and living on a limited income has resulted in the 1950s-era house showing its age.

“Every time it rained, the water would come down the walls and I’d worry if the roof would fall down,” he said.

The water damage resulted in termite problems, and the compounding issues caused Brazeal a lot of stress.

“Every day I think about it and worry about where the money will come from for that and the medical bills,” he said.

But Brazeal now has fewer things to worry about, thanks to Rebuilding Together Tulsa, an organization that provides free home repairs to low-income homeowners.

The couple’s house received a new roof as well as new siding, window repairs, a new door and energy-efficiency repairs, including new attic insulation, that are designed to lower energy costs throughout the year.

“This has taken a lot of pressure off of my daily worries,” Brazeal said. “I can feel it, and for a heart patient, that’s a good thing.”

Rebuilding Together Tulsa provides repairs to 150 to 200 homes each year. The repairs typically range from new roofs to grab bars in bathrooms and handrails on front porches.

Homes such as the Brazeals’ receive additional work when the funding is available, said Kelly Hall, the agency’s spokeswoman.

The funding for additional repairs at the Brazeals’ home came through Heroes at Home, a partnership between Rebuilding Together and Sears designed specifically for low-income veteran homeowners.

Brazeal was a member of the Army Reserve and served two years of active duty in the 1970s.

To qualify for repairs, a person must own the home, live in the city of Tulsa and meet the low-income eligibility guidelines.

“Many of our homeowners have lived in their homes for 30 to 50 years. They’ve worked hard all their lives, and now, while living on a limited income, they are physically and financially unable to make the needed repairs to their homes,” Hall said.

One hundred homeowners are on a waiting list for roof repairs, and the wait is about one year, Hall said, adding that the agency’s biggest need is additional funding for roofs.

Roof work is often essential before any other repairs to a home can be made because a leaking roof can cause other repairs to be futile, Hall said.

“When someone calls and needs a roof, it’s really hard to tell them it’s going to be a year,” she said. “A good roof is essential to a healthy home.”

Read the story on the Tulsa World website here.