A homeowner’s staying power

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“I want to stay in my home,” says Annette Koch, sipping a hot cup of tea in her kitchen.

She and her (now-ex) husband raised their four children in this historic home in Fairfax Village, and it is full of the family’s memories. On Christmas Eve, 15 of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren joined her for the holiday meal.

The season keeps her busy. In addition to crafting recycled Christmas cards to send to friends, she also offers clothing to the community and uses any donated funds to create decorations to display on the bridge nearby. She collects comic strips which she brings to hospital patients to brighten their days.

A few months prior, she would not have been able to drink tea or craft in the kitchen. The home’s 35-year-old roof had deteriorated to the point where she says “where the nails were, it was raining right in.”

Annette contacted the Champlain Housing Trust loan program for help. Through CHT, she was able to get a deferred loan, a Healthy Homes grant and a Safe & Sound grant to repair both her roof and the furnace.

“The furnace is just going to go on me any day, and it’s certainly not as efficient as a new one,” she says. She looks forward to the quiet as well as lower heating costs.

Growing up, Annette was one of 14 children living on a 2,000 acre farm in Westford, Vermont. She laughs remembering times when her father would come home with a new baler or manure spreader, and her mother (who kept the family’s budget) would get out the checkbook to write another check. “She was so good with money … and he was a spender!”

Her father helped her family as well, assisting with the purchase of the Fairfax home – bought for about $24,000 – in 1972. She’s been there ever since

Annette worked as a home health care nurse, serving clients in rehab programs, nursing homes and in their homes as well.

“To stay in your home as you get older: it’s your memories; it’s part of who you are; it’s home for your family, where the kids were brought up,” she says. “It is more important than can be said – to go home. It’s coziness, a feeling of comfort. It’s like a cup of tea.”

And with her new roof and furnace, Annette has many more cups of tea to look forward to in her home.

Funding for the project was made possible in part by Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks® America, the Vermont Healthy Homes program, and the Vermont Community Development Program.