2005-01-07 / Community

WRAP Helps Seniors Weatherize Homes

By Miriam Rosenberg

Regina Enman (center), the Liaison/Coordinator of the Far Rockaway WRAP program, poses for a photo with her office staff Monique Wiggins and Koppie Brown.
Regina Enman (center), the Liaison/Coordinator of the Far Rockaway WRAP program, poses for a photo with her office staff Monique Wiggins and Koppie Brown. Contributing Editor

Many senior citizens who need to weatherize or repair their homes find the cost prohibitive.

WRAP (Weatherization Referral and Packaging Program), which is funded by the Department of Aging, is a referral program available to help seniors discover the various options they have in such situations.

“A lot of low income seniors can’t afford to up keep their homes,” said Regina Enman, the Liaison/Coordinator of the program in Far Rockaway. “Our program is to help them keep it.”

Requirements to take part in the program are that a person is HEAP eligible, is at least 60-years-old and is a homeowner.

Applicants must provide proof of income such as a Social Security award letter or pension information, proof of ownership of home such as a deed or tax assessment letter, and proof of utilities like gas and electric bills.

Most people contact the WRAP office by phone. Following a telephone screening, Enman does a house visit where she determines if the senior qualifies for the program.

During the visit she explains the WRAP program, and helps the client make out the applications. If the applicant does qualify, they are told immediately.

“I come out with all the options and explain each program and what they can get with the programs,” Enman told The Wave.

“We work through Margert [Community Corp.] who does most of the weatherizations. We also work with the Neighborhood Housing Service, the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens and the Parodneck Foundation. All help seniors keep their homes.”

Since a home cannot be weatherized until any necessary repairs are made, it is up to Enman to decide if the home needs any work – such as minor repairs to ceilings, doors and sometimes roofs – prior to weatherizing. If repairs need to be made, Enman will refer the client to the appropriate program.

The New York Foundation for Senior Citizens’ Home Repair Program does work for free if the client buys the materials that are needed. The foundation also has a home safety audit program which is “designed to help prevent household accidents, injuries and burglaries” by sending volunteer specialists to inspect the home and “identify potential hazards and recommend ways to resolve them.”

The Parodneck Foundation has several different loans programs. One such loan program is the Senior Citizen Homeowner Assistance Program (SCHAP).

SCHAP is a low-interest loan that helps homeowners with major repairs. Other programs that WRAP could refer a client to include the Neighborhood Housing Services in Jamaica and Metro Pair through the Metropolitan Council On Jewish Poverty.

Once the work on the homes is finished, weatherization, usually done by Margert Community Corp., can be completed.

WRAP has been in the Far Rockaway area for ten years, yet it seems to be a little known program in the area with most of its clients coming from other parts of Queens.

“We might have a handful from Far Rockaway,” Enman said. Many of the clients who contact the program come from such areas as Hollis, Jamaica and Cambria Heights. Enman said that her office deals with 10 or 11 different zip codes.

“I don’t know if residents are not aware [of the program] or if Rockaway seniors are dealing with Margert directly. We do get a few referrals.” Enman’s message is “basically to get the word out to seniors who really need help that services are out there to help them.”

WRAP can be contacted by calling 718 337-2454.

WRAP is part of the Institute for the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly, Inc., which has been providing service to senior citizens in New York for 26 years.

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