Mary Ann McDowell lives in a cozy rambler in the West Marysville neighborhood just off Marine Drive with a couple of grandsons. A friendly and generous person, she also makes room for the boys' friends when they need a place to stay, or just a safe hangout.
But Mary Ann has faced increasing challenges just getting around in her home, the place she has lived for more than 35 years. New in 1972, the house poses real healthy and safety hazards for McDowell these days.
The Marysville woman is afflicted with a condition, as yet undiagnosed, that makes it very difficult for her to walk unassisted. She shuffles along, aided by a walker, but has to be very careful of rugs and uneven surfaces because she has difficulty lifting her feet.
"The doctors aren't sure if it's a nerve problem, or something to do with my back," said McDowell.
What she does know is that her legs become swollen, her knees are shot and even the surface of her skin is extremely painful to touch.
"I'm really a happy person," she said with an infectious smile. "I don't need much, and I just want to make sure my grandsons are cared for."
But the doorways are too narrow for her walker, the kitchen is so small she has to walk backwards to get out, and the driveway is so badly broken it's become a safety hazard.
McDowell's son Bob heard about the housing rehabilitation loan program run by Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO
) and convinced his mom to apply.
"Since I lost my husband six years ago, the house has started to fall down around me," she confessed. "This program means I can stay in my home and still afford to live."
McDowell applied for the low-interest loan program and was approved. She interviewed three different contractors and chose to work with Kevin Thorsen of Jet Plumbing.
Work was set to begin the week of June 15, and McDowell is ecstatic about the improvements that are scheduled.
"The kitchen area is going to be wider, so I can even use a wheelchair if I need to," she said. "And they're going to widen my bathroom door and put in a new shower stall with a seat."
The sinking and cracked driveway will also be repaired and, if the funds are available, she also hopes to replace some leaky windows and the broken sliding door that leads to the small patio.
"The Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program has helped hundreds of families make repairs to their homes," said Mark Papritz, the HASCO construction lead. "The loans are zero interest or 3 percent interest over 30 years, which can help low- and modest-income households with a variety of safety and home improvement projects."
Papritz said the local program will also be receiving federal stimulus money that's specifically targeted for energy-saving projects.
HASCO serves homeowners who live in Snohomish County, with the exception of those within the Everett city limits who are served by the CHIP program. For information about HASCO and its rehabilitation program, contact Mark Papritz at (425) 293-0551 or e-mail him at email@example.com
. To learn more about the eligibility requirements, call loan specialist Jackie VanAssche at (425) 293-0555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Ann McDowell has never considered herself a victim, but she's grateful for the helping hand HASCO provides.
"I just can't believe this is really going to happen," she said. "It's a real wish come true."