A national nonprofit organization that helps disabled aging veterans with home repairs is partnering with local homebuilders to get the work done through a new program in Tucson.

Purple Heart Homes announced Monday it is seeking senior veterans in the Tucson area in need of housing repairs and modifications that will allow them to remain at home, said Carolyn “Charli” Straight, the organization’s veteran project relations manager.

The organization has repaired more than 500 homes owned by veterans nationwide, Straight said.

The public charity was founded in 2008 by John Gallina and Dale Beatty, two veterans who were wounded in Iraq in 2004. Gallina and Beatty wanted to help service-connected disabled veterans with housing needs.

In Arizona, there are more than 522,000 veterans. More than 92,000 live in Pima County, and half are age 65 and older, organizers said.

One of the charity’s programs is Veterans Aging In Place, which provides modest home repairs, installations or modifications of ramps, railings and grab bars. Other work includes painting and yard work.

The Tucson area program is starting with $15,000 and is set on repairs of at least two homes, said Elisha Harig-Blaine of the National League of Cities. “We plan to help grow out this program,” said Harig-Blaine, explaining he has worked with Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and the City Council in securing housing and programs for veterans.

“We have spent a lot of time getting veterans into housing, but the fact of the matter is that there are disabled veterans living below poverty levels,” Rothschild said. “We want to start this program in the city and make it a region wide program.”

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A Purple Heart Homes chapter needs to be formed in Tucson, and organizations will work with veterans, home builders, fundraising groups and volunteers to meet the need in housing renovations among elderly disabled veterans. “We need to bring in University of Arizona students and faith communities,” said Harig-Blaine.

Ben Buehler-Garcia, a spokesman for the Remodeler’s Council of Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, said the project will start off small and is expected to grow over the years.

In addition to the city and SAHBA, other local organizations working to meet housing repair needs of disabled veterans are Home Depot and Bank of America.

Those who may qualify under the program are veterans who live in homes that are not suited for service-connected disabilities or normal aging issues. These veterans may be living on fixed incomes and can no longer make needed home repairs.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@tucson.com or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar


Carmen started at the Star in 1981 and covers the aging population. She wrote “Mama’s Santos: An Arizona Life”, a book about the Mexican and Mexican-American experience in the Southwest through stories about her family. It won 11 awards.