Submitted by Liz Puckett
Our Indoor Plumbing Rehabilitation (IPR) program helps to ensure families have safe drinking water, eliminates hazardous outhouse trips and more. However, due to the pandemic, project material costs have skyrocketed. Without donations from supporters, IPR will not only have to turn down people who ask for help, it will have to drop some projects it has already started.
Since the pandemic began, IPR has received even more requests for help than usual. However, state and federal funding haven’t increased, while the cost of materials like lumber has risen sharply. “It’s been a struggle trying to get these projects up off the ground,” said PR program manager Liz Puckett.
IPR does its best to keep costs low. However, it often has to install new septic systems, drill new wells, or even rebuild badly damaged houses.
Willie Bell Ray benefited from IPR only because generous family members pitched in to fill gaps in the program’s funding.
Ray, who is in her 70s, lived with her disabled son in a 50-year-old trailer. The trailer had no indoor plumbing. To avoid the hazard of walking down the hill to use the outhouse at night, she and her son used five-gallon buckets instead. They also had to carry water up from the well to cook and wash dishes.
The trailer was so damaged that it needed to be fully replaced. However, IPR nearly had to turn Willie Bell down because material costs vastly outgrew the program’s budget. They were only able to continue with the project because Ray’s family supplied a new trailer. Now, she and her son have running water, a shower and a toilet.
Not everyone is as lucky as Ray to have a family support system. IPR has been unable to move forward with two projects this year because they exceeded budget. Both houses belong to families with children, including one with a child under five-years-old. “It hurts me to my heart that I can’t help them,” Pickett said.