CINCINNATI — This time last year, Naima Jackson feared she would lose her family home because she could not afford to make the repairs it needed.
Now, her house is set for the next generation thanks to WCPO 9 readers and viewers who stepped up to cover the cost of upgrades and repairs.
“That house, from a mechanic standpoint, should be in really good shape for decades to come with a lot of these things,” said Amy Goodman, a Sibcy Cline real estate agent and fair housing officer who solicited donations for Jackson’s house. “As long as they’re maintained, they can last for a long time, which will be great.”
In December, Jackson said she appreciates the kindness and support from the many individuals and companies that contributed.
“I am grateful,” she said.
WCPO first reported on Jackson in early 2021 when she was struggling to maintain her family home on Alaska Court in Avondale.
Her great-grandparents bought the house more than 50 years ago, becoming some of the first Black homeowners on the street. Jackson inherited the home from her father, and the house has been paid off for more than 20 years. But Jackson’s monthly Social Security disability checks couldn’t cover the cost of the repairs needed to keep the home livable. She sought help from local nonprofit organizations with no luck and tried unsuccessfully to get a second mortgage or home equity loan.
“This family house is everything,” Jackson said at the time. “I’m trying to save a legacy.”
Almost immediately, WCPO 9 began getting emails and calls from people who wanted to help.
Funds donated, work done total more than $60K
Tracey MCullough started a GoFundMe campaign for Jackson one day after the original story published. It raised more than $6,600.
Deer Park Roofing installed a new roof and gutters on Jackson’s home in May as the company’s charitable project for 2021. Owens Corning donated the shingles, and Deer Park supplied the labor and other materials. The total value of the work was roughly $12,000.
Rich Goodman, a project manager with NorthPoint Development and Amy Goodman's husband, took on the role of general contractor for the rest of the work. His wife had sent him a link to the original story, he said, and the couple felt compelled to help.
The companies contributed labor and materials to replace Jackson’s furnace, install an air-conditioning system, upgrade the electrical system, improve drainage in the basement and replace Jackson’s flooring on the main floor of her house. The businesses covered nearly $30,000 worth of labor and materials for all that work. NorthPoint Foundation paid for about $10,000 of the costs.
In the end, the Goodmans also gave Jackson a check for nearly $6,400 from the money remaining from a separate GoFundMe campaign they launched to help pay for repairs.
Medical needs change renovation priorities
The project did not go exactly as planned.
“Plan A was essentially to get the basement in a livable condition so that Naima could give up her living quarters in the main floor for her mom,” Rich Goodman said. “What ultimately ended up happening was her mom actually ended up going to the hospital.”
That meant Jackson needed to be able to move her mother into the home as soon as possible, and she needed to be on the same floor as her mother so she could care for her.
Plan B was to get new flooring for the home’s main floor.
“Just basically making the mobility easier between the rooms and the spaces on the main floor,” Rich Goodman said. “We were able to get a vinyl plank faux wood flooring down whereas most of the space was carpet.”
The goal, he said, was to make it easier to move a medical bed throughout the home.
The Goodmans’ GoFundMe campaign also didn’t raise as much as they had hoped it would initially, Amy Goodman said. But because so much of the labor and materials for the work ended up being donated, she said they were able to cover a lot of interior work anyway.
“Pretty much every major mechanical piece in the house was changed,” she said. “New electric panel, new furnace with split-level AC units, which Sure Mechanical put in that we weren’t even anticipating. The house didn’t have AC, so they added AC.”
Rich Goodman praised the contractors for their generosity and for how well they coordinated their work.
“It’s not like we put in used equipment,” he said. “I mean, we got a brand-new furnace donated.”
Jackson is busy with her mother’s medical care and couldn’t do another interview, but Amy Goodman said there is one major problem that remains — even after all the work that was completed on Jackson’s home: the fact that so many other homeowners are in need, and the approach that worked for Jackson can’t work for everyone.
“There isn’t a resource for someone to go to get any of this,” Amy Goodman said. “A lot of people are going to see this and be like, ‘Well, what can I do?’ And I think that’s still a really big miss that people have. When they need the support, it’s really hard to find the resources.”
Amy Goodman said she doesn’t have an answer for that problem, but she added that she doesn’t think anyone should have to wonder if they’re going to lose their home, especially when it is paid off like Jackson’s is.
“I hope someone sees this story and is smarter than we are and figures out how to help,” she said. “Whether it’s a foundation or a nonprofit, whatever it is, there’s someone out there that can create something like this. Or if there’s already something like this, how can they scale it? Because the need is not going away. COVID did not help that at all.”
For everyone struggling like Jackson was, Amy Goodman said she hopes they get something else from the story, too.
“I’m also hoping that if someone is going through a hard time right now, they see that people care,” she said. “The thought and the care is there. I think that the companies speak to that. I think that individuals that we raised money from really speak to that, and I hope they know that we’re thinking of them.”