Self-Help Housing Program brings NECAC, Little Dixie and USDA together to weatherize and improve accessibility for Hannibal homeowner

SUMMARY: 

BYLINE: Trevor McDonald

BYLINE ATTRIBUTION: Courier-Post Reporter

BODY TEXT:

HANNIBAL, Mo. — A Hannibal homeowner gained various home repair skills as she invested 79 hours working with NECAC crew members to renovate her home through the agency's Self-Help Program.

Laura Spencer purchased her home on Sierra St. in 2016 and immediately began working on exterior renovations. But several areas of the home needed attention — a drafty rear screen door and windows increased her utility bills, and the floor in the rear room drooped about three inches near her washing machine and dryer, causing her to twist her ankle on several occasions. She worked alongside NECAC Construction Supervisor Mark Blackwell Thursday to perform renovations to her home thanks to a partnership between NECAC; Little Dixie, who provided technical and management assistance; and the USDA, who funded the project.

Spencer has a rare genetic condition that limits her mobility and will continue to progress. But that didn't stop her dedication to the work. The program called for her to help for 20 hours, but she said she “tried to be as hands-on as I could.” Blackwell showed her how to install a walkway constructed with pavers between her house and her garage, operate several different types of saws, install ceramic flooring and set up new rails leading to her front door. She plans to continue using her new skills to install a metal rail next to the pavers and begin restoring her garage.

“I can use my own saw,” Spencer said. “It's been a great learning process — tiring, but a great learning process.”

Blackwell enjoyed the chance to share his knowledge while he helped Spencer increase her home's accessibility, safety and efficiency.

“She's been a wonderful lady to work with,” Blackwell said. “She's based in her faith pretty good, and I'm blessed to have a job where I have the opportunity to teach somebody something and to motivate them in the right direction.”

In the basement, Blackwell stood close by, offering guidance as Spencer used a nail gun to install trim on a window. The house was constructed in 1907, and the original, set-in single-pane windows were replaced with sealed, double-pane windows. Spencer is looking forward to lower utility bills as a result of the weatherization efforts. She also worked with Blackwell on the drooping floor in her back room — it is now level and covered with new ceramic tiles.

Spencer grew up in a Victorian home on Sixth St., and she knew her home was the right fit when it came up for sale at a price that would allow her to bring it back to life. She completed several exterior projects, but the interior was deteriorating before the Self-Help Housing partnership. Spencer said the various

“It's been a great project, it really has,” Spencer said. “I've been extremely grateful to NECAC.”

More information about the Self-Help Housing Program and other NECAC services is available by visiting the Marion County Service Center at 3518 Palmyra Road or calling 573-221-3404.

tncdonald@courierpost.com