Lakeland Habitat for Humanity expands home-repair program for vets in Polk

LAKELAND — Lee Wilson and his 92-year-old mother, Rosezell Wilson, no longer have to worry that water might seep into their house the next time a thunderstorm stalls over their Lakeland neighborhood.

Contractors hired by Lakeland Habitat for Humanity recently replaced the Wilsons’ roof, while also making repairs to a bathroom and a porch and replacing a kitchen faucet and two windows. And it cost the Wilsons nothing.

Lee Wilson, 70, benefited from a Habitat for Humanity program that provides free home repairs for veterans and their families. Wilson served in the U.S. Army for three years, including one year spent in Vietnam during the military action there.

Lee Wilson

Most Americans probably associate Habitat for Humanity with the mission of building houses for people with low incomes. In recent years, though, the Lakeland affiliate has shifted more toward doing home repairs than constructing houses, CEO Claire Twomey said.

Partly because of increases in the fees for construction permits, Twomey said it can now cost as much as $120,000 to build even a small house.