People’s Liberty Haile Fellow Brandon Black started Retire Repair as a way to bridge the gap between generations and build a sense of community. Retire Repair is a program where retirees are paired with new homeowners to transfer their knowledge of home improvement to the younger generations. “There’s a need for projects like this because a lot of homeowners (myself included) could really use know-how of what it takes to maintain a home,” says Brandon. Millennials are currently the largest living generation and will make up a very significant amount of new homeowners within the coming years. The Urban Land Institute surveyed new millennial home-owners and found that roughly ⅓ do not know how to perform necessary home repairs needed to maintain their homes. This lack of knowledge can turn a dream home into a nightmare.
On the flipside there are many skilled workers in older generations who have experience renovating homes. “America has a very youth centric-culture,” says Brandon. “A lot of times our elders are not given the respect they deserve or appreciated for the knowledge they have and how they still contribute to society. We need to learn to trust each other across generations and value each other as assets.” Retire Repair leverages the strengths of two generations to not only help each other solve problems, but to foster lasting meaningful relationships as well.
The switch flipped for Brandon when he and his wife decided to purchase their first home. “There was a home my wife and I were looking at purchasing. It was a foreclosure and we didn’t even know what the inside looked like. We knew it would be a complete fixer upper but we liked it and loved the neighborhood. We didn’t end up buying it but I kept my eye on it. One day I drove past and the person who bought it was there working. I pulled over, introduced myself and told her my story. She was nice enough to invite me in. She showed me around and it was literally a gut job. They’d done so much work. There were beautiful fresh beams and studs. Her parents were there and her dad was cutting boards while we were talking. I told them the house looked great and that it was a lot more work than I thought it’d be. I don’t think I could've handled it. She told me that if her dad wasn’t a retired carpenter she never would have bought the house herself. I thought, I wish I had a carpenter dad.” Later when Brandon and his wife did purchase their first home, they were fortunate enough to have help from Brandon’s ex-wrestling coach and his father-in-law. Brandon realized that not everyone has a carpenter dad, or people with the know-how to help new homeowners with renovations. The idea for Retire Repair was born.
Since starting his fellowship last spring Brandon has successfully paired three retirees with new homeowners. He hopes to get this number up to twelve in the coming months. Brandon recalls how excited he was watching a pair work together. “I watched a pair repair a bathroom door that hadn’t shut completely for years. They got together and the retiree taught the homeowner all the tricks of the trade and together they fixed the door. It was amazing to see them work together and get to know each other. I enjoyed seeing a smile and a sense of pride on the homeowners face when the door closed for the first time in years.”
The relationships between individuals are as meaningful as they are educational, encouraging a sense of pride and confidence in both the retiree and homeowner. “They understand it’s about legacy,” says Brandon. “ The retirees just get it. They want to help people and make sure their skills are transferred. They know how important it is to educate the next generation.”
If you are interested in learning more about Retire Repair give Brandon a call, the old fashion way at 513-295-8354.