December Community Game Changer
MSU Denver alum Jeff Martinez saves homes and empowers elderly
By Amy Phare
This summer, two Denver sisters needed help. Both in their 80s, the women suffer from chronic illnesses and limited mobility, yet they wanted to maintain home ownership and independence.
Jeff Martinez, a Metropolitan State University of Denver graduate, made that happen for the sisters. He secured funding from a local company, and with the help of volunteers and a “caring staff,” he led the effort to outfit their home with handrails, grab bars, a wheelchair ramp and even a new coat of paint.
Martinez is a home-saving hero who transforms lives by way of Brothers Redevelopment. “That’s what Brothers is all about,” says Martinez, the nonprofit organization’s president. “We provide repairs that enable elderly to stay in their homes longer as they face physical challenges.”
Responding to requests from seniors in Northeast Denver needing urgent home repairs, Brothers Redevelopment recently re-launched its Neighborhood Caretakers program, raising more than $30,000. Under the program, Brothers recruits volunteers and coordinates renovations and repairs — generally free of charge to residents.
“I’m proud that we responded to an existing, unmet need from longtime residents of these areas — reviving a dormant program that had a storied history within the organization,” says Martinez.
Besides senior citizens, Brothers Redevelopment serves low-income and disabled residents. In addition to maintenance and repairs, it provides affordable housing at 13 properties for more than 700 tenants and counseling for first-time homebuyers, those with loans in default and for seniors thinking about taking a reverse mortgage.
“Our first goal is to help folks get into homes, maintain their homes or as they get older, find homes that they don’t have to maintain,” says Martinez.
As the market begins to change, so will the needs of the community. “Seeing fewer foreclosures is great for Denver and the state — and speaks to the growing economic stability of the region,” says Martinez. “It will be up to us to strengthen existing programs that are helping senior and disabled homeowners find and maintain housing, explore new pathways that make it easier for clients to access our services and to form new partnerships to broaden awareness.”
Brothers Redevelopment has served more than 80,000 households over the past 40 years, and that number is growing. For those interested in volunteering, Martinez has a message: “Call and we’ll figure out a way to fulfill our mission,” he says. “It’s a meaningful volunteer experience.”
And for those in need, Martinez offers hope. “We want people to call us when they know of someone with a housing challenge,” he says. “We will help everyone in need. If we can’t do it here, we will find a way to get assistance, because that’s what we do.”