German Village Gazette

New group raising roof for needy families

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A new social enterprise in Columbus wants homeowners to go running for cover.

Roofs Over Ohio Families, founded in January, helps low- and fixed-income families get new roofs on their homes.

Ryan Cox, a co-founder of ROOF, said the organization helps facilitate the claims process between homeowners and insurance companies.

"One of the common misconceptions and apprehensions people have about filing an insurance claim of this nature is their insurance rates will go up when they do," Cox said.

"Rates do not go up when they file a claim because of storm damage."

Homeowners are faced with a staggering $10,000 price tag for a new roof, which often can be replaced if the policy holder pays a $500 deductible.

The problem, Cox said, is many people can't even pay the deductible, while others aren't even aware they're eligible.

So, ROOF has established a fund that allows public and private entities to contribute the deductible for needy homeowners, Cox said.

The group has explored funding options at the local, state and federal levels. Meanwhile, ROOF is reaching out to area commissions, block watches and civic associations to get more financially distressed families to sign up for help, Cox said.

Some cities offer financial assistance for roof replacement. So far this year, the city of Columbus has 126 households on its roof waiting list, each averaging $10,000 for roof replacement, said Cynthia Rickman, spokeswoman for the Department of Development.

"We can really make the dollars they have available go much further," Cox said.

And some nonprofit home-repair and building organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, won't do full roof repair, Cox said.

"The core issue is that the limited funds available through any organization -- the city, nonprofit or social enterprises -- prohibit most of these groups from being able to replace a roof despite the imperative need to do so," he said.

To qualify for help, homeowners must demonstrate a financial hardship, Cox said. Applications can be made by emailing info@roofsoverohiofamilies.org, calling 866-570-5757 or visiting facebook.com/ roofsoverohiofamilies.

ROOF was started by Galloway-based Columbus Contracting Co., of which Cox is also a partner. As a way to give back to the community, the company decided to help central Ohio's needy families, Cox said.

However, because of state insurance laws, the business is prohibited from paying directly for deductibles, he said.

"We see that there's such a need for folks that's not being met," Cox said. "Most roofing contractors want to focus on the suburbs where people have expendable income for upgrades.

"And there's just no focus on financially depressed neighborhoods throughout town. But that doesn't make the need go away."

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