Organization to help Edinburg residents install indoor bathrooml
By Alex Bridges - firstname.lastname@example.org
EDINBURG - Charles Moomaw and his wife Frances won't need to brave bad weather or the dark of night to use a bathroom.
People Inc., which provides housing assistance for low-income residents through various programs such as rehabilitation and improvements, will be improving the Moomaw home with new water and septic systems as well as an indoor bathroom. Funding for the improvements will come from the scattered site housing rehabilitation program through a federal community development block grant.
Moomaw, who said he has never lived with anything but outhouses, said he has gotten used to not having the convenience of an indoor bathroom. He noted, though, that the new bathroom will "be nice if you have to get up at night or something."
Moomaw, 73, and his wife live in a two-story, wooden-frame home on Granstaff Lane. The house Moomaw bought more than 30 years ago sits on approximately one acre on the gravel road.
Moomaw, a U.S. Army veteran who served from 1956-1963, worked as a machine gunner, demolitions specialist, combat construction specialist and a combat engineer supervisor. Several military service medals adorn his camouflage cap. The Bryce Mountain native returned to Shenandoah County after he left the service.
The veteran recently underwent treatment for prostate cancer and neck and spinal cord problems.
Moomaw said he first approached People Inc. in January 2011 when he heard about the program. When he learned that his home was selected for the improvements, he said it made him feel good, and that he couldn't believe it at first.
"I thought, it's gotta be some kind of gimmick or something," he said.
The program does come with conditions, such as a requirement that the homeowner agrees to not sell the property for 10 years after receiving the improvments. Moomaw said he understood that requirement served as a deterrent to recipients who may want to try and turn a profit on the work.
Moomaw has made improvements to the home, such as securing the porch and painting, but said he never got around to making a bathroom.
"Never figured I ever could," Moomaw said, adding that if it weren't for People Inc.'s help, he would never be able to get a bathroom because the county had turned him down. He said Shenandoah County told him he could install a pump-and-haul system, but not a septic system.
"Government said, 'Naw, we're gonna get you a bathroom," Moomaw said.
The agency had an engineer design the system and the necessary permits were obtained. The septic tank for the new system will be installed in the back yard.
Moomaw installed an outhouse, about the size of a small shed, a few years ago. It sits on a concrete pad about 50 feet from the back of the house. The facility is about 100 feet from an older outhouse, about the size of a portable toile. It has sunk and tilts to the left. The newer outhouse does use a septic tank and is inspected by the Department of Health, he said.
People Inc. plans to divide and convert a bedroom in the house into a bathroom and a laundry room.
The improvements also include the installation of a well in front of the house. Currently the Moomaws receive water by way of an underground tank which collects rain from the house's storm drains. An electric pump sends water to the kitchen sink. Dry spells can put the couple in a bind and at times Moomaw has had to buy more water when their supply ran low.
He recalls one dry summer. "That was fierce," he said.
With a limited water source, the Moomaws have learned how to conserve.
"Hell, if I take a bath in the washpan or sink, a gallon of water does it," Moomaw said. He added that showering and even shaving use up a lot of water. "They go to shave and they just turn the spigot on and let it run 'til they get it done."
On his porch, in an area he enclosed for his clothes washer, Moomaw pointed out a manual water pump. He expressed concern that the installation of the well may eliminate the pump, which he said he would need in the event the house loses electricity.
Other improvements to the Moomaw home have been made. One group came to the house recently to install weatherization improvements such as insulation and sealants to reduce heating and cooling costs. The group also installed new windows, doors and built a replacement chimney. Moomaw said the improvements should cut his heating bill in half.