Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scottsdale renovation program gets own makeover

A Scottsdale program that teams volunteers and businesses to restore distressed properties is undergoing a makeover.

Since June 2009, the program, formerly known as Code Cares, has restored 135 houses in need of maintenance, city officials said.

Volunteers do everything from tidy up yards to trim trees, paint houses and mend fences. Businesses donate the materials so public funding is not needed.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said he wants to make the 3-year-old program, now called Operation Fix It, a larger community effort involving more local businesses.

The goal is to refurbish at least 130 homes in the next year, he said.

"It's been a good program," Lane said. "It's just one that needed new life."

Recipients are often referred to the city by social workers, neighbors or code-enforcement officers, said Michelle Bruce, a program coordinator who co-founded the program.

Eligibility is based on guidelines for low-income housing.

"I work together with volunteers to point them to the projects," Bruce said.

A tiered donation program is designed to encourage more businesses to participate. Annual sponsorships range from $250 to $2,500, which would bankroll community efforts.

Bruce said materials such as rock landscaping, plants and paint are needed.

In 2010, volunteers painted the house, replaced a door, trimmed trees and fixed the walkway for Scottsdale mother and daughter Beverly and Edna Deardoff.

The Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, which works with the city, selected the Deardoffs for a community project.

Scottsdale code enforcement had issued a citation to the Deardoffs, who were on the city's wait list for assistance.

"I woke up to see tons of cars up and down the street in front of my house. People are coming up to my door, asking 'What do you want us to do?'" Edna Deardoff said. "I thought I was on the home makeover show."

Volunteers noticed the Deardoffs had scorpions and a faulty air-conditioner, said Realtor Lee McGhee.

McGhee, who owns 480-Termite LLC, provided pest-control services. Scottsdale-based Mountain AC repaired the air-conditioner.

"They did a lot of work for us out there," Edna Deardoff said. "It brought tears to my eyes."

J.P. Twist, Lane's chief of staff, said residents can apply without having a code violation.

To prevent misuse, Lane asked the city to develop "fair and appropriate" testing of applicants' means.

Future efforts could include roofing, air-conditioning and handyman assistance.

Nancy Cantor, a south Scottsdale resident and former member of Scottsdale's Housing Board, questioned why the program makeover was never discussed with board members, who make recommendations on housing programs in Scottsdale.

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How to participate

Scottsdale's Operation Fix It program provides assistance to needy homeowners with distressed properties. It teams volunteers with businesses that donate materials.

Items needed most are rock landscaping, plants and paint. Information is available on the city's website at scottsdaleaz.gov, by searching for "Operation Fix It."

Businesses can donate supplies and residents can apply for assistance on the website, which lists the program criteria for annual income.

The city has a goal to clean every blighted alley by June 30, 2014.

For more information, call program coordinator Michelle Bruce at 480-312-8703.





by Beth Duckett - Jun. 13, 2012 09:28 PM The Republic | azcentral.com




Scottsdale renovation program gets own makeover

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