South Bend homes to be repaired, not torn down

This coming spring South Bend's Near Northwest-Lincoln Park neighborhood will get a face lift.

An estimated 750 volunteers will spend the first two Saturday's in April rehabilitating 21 homes as part of Rebuilding Together, St. Joseph County.

The announcement for the 26th Rebuilding Together was made at a private residence on Colfax Ave. The owner, Helen DuPriest is one of the happy recipients of roof and plumbing repairs.

"I can't say how much I appreciate it," said DuPriest. She has lived in the Near Northwest-Lincoln Park neighborhood since 18=986, but is a South Bend resident of more than 60 years. DuPriest said she has needed to fix the roof and other parts of her homes for years, but doesn't have the financial or physical ability to make the repairs.

Jim Sheetz, Vice President of Rebuilding Together and part of Plumbers and Pipe fitters local 172, said some of the homes will have more than 30 people working at once.

"It's a major improvement for these homeowners, the biggest thing is, some say it's too good to be true and it's no cost to them," Sheetz added.

The workers will start work at around 8:00 a.m. on April 5 and April 12, and with so many hands on deck the work is accomplished quickly and professionally.

All of the money donated goes to the repairs. Rebuilding Together runs on donations from businesses, local contractors and trades, the University of Notre Dame, the city of South Bend as well as private contributors.

Deputy Mayor Mark Neal said he's proud of Rebuilding Together and the joint efforts to beautify some of South Bend's neighborhoods.

"Here in South Bend people take pride in their neighborhood and we have so many wonderful neighborhoods," said Neal, "some people are having challenges maintaining their homes to the level they would like to."

The repairs are worth more than $300,000, including 14 roof replacements, seven furnace upgrades and four electrical upgrades.

Since 1989, Rebuilding Together--known as "Christmas in April" until 2002--has rehabilitated 845 homes, saving residents about $11 million in repairs.

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