She says state hasn't helped with struggling home: 'I just want the integrity of my home to be saved'

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-01 18:24:13-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Nestled in the heart of Cumberland, Virginia, is a passion project purchased by Leah Fultz and her husband, over 20 years ago.

"That was something I always had a dream about, buying land and the horses," Fultz said. "Dave and myself, we had purchased homes in the past and we restored them and resold. And this was going to be our last house."

Fultz hoped she and her husband would be able to plant their roots long-term in Cumberland, but tragedy struck.

"My husband and I moved out here 23 years ago and he passed away in 2005," Fultz said.

Fultz was devastated by the loss of her husband but was dedicated to keeping up the home they once shared. Over time, Fultz says, the home needed more substantial repairs.

Fultz applied for a rural home repair program she heard would help restore her home for free.

"I called them and just listed the things I was in need of fixing, and I didn't hear from them for probably two years," Fultz said.

The group is a partner of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and was a part of the Virginia Rural Rehab Program.

"I want to keep my house, I want to keep living in it and I don't have the money to fix it - and that was what the whole program was about and instead of making it better they made it worse."

Fultz hoped to have the siding and foundation of her house replaced. She says there were issued from the beginning having the inspector come out before the work was finished.

"I pointed out stuff with the siding that concerned me, and he said 'no, that's not supposed to be that way.'"

Fultz reached out to the Virginia Department of Housing, hoping to have another contractor return to complete the work.

"Take my siding off and put it up right so that my house will be what it should've been - and I would like that foundation fixed."

Fultz says the Dept. of Housing sent another contractor to do the repairs but they also seemed to complete the work improperly.

Even after numerous contractors were sent to work on Fultz's home, a number of issues remained: including nails sticking out of her deck, siding falling off and sticking out, a rotting foundation, and even left-behind trash that eventually attracted rodents.

Fultz says she requested another contractor due to the ongoing issues in March but still has yet to receive one.

"As a widow, I don't have somebody to fix it like I did before, and it kind of reminds me how I don't have my husband here anymore."

Fultz says its heartbreaking to see the home she and her husband restored began to deteriorate.

"It's going to continue to rot unless I can get somebody to take the siding off and put it up properly," Fultz said. "At this point, I just want the integrity of my home to be saved."

After being told things would be fixed for the past five years, she says things have only seemed to get worse.

"Do you think that's ok?" Fultz asked. "Would you do that to your family, would you allow that to happen to your family?"

"I would ask that they make it right and stop doing what they're doing, stop hurting people - because you are hurting people."

CBS 6 reached out to the Virginia Department of Housing and received the following statement:

Since 2020, the Virginia Rural Rehab Program is no longer funded and administered through DHCD. DHCD provided a new contractor for Ms. Fultz's rehabilitation in 2022 through a new subgrantee. At this time, the current subgrantee has requested to withdraw from this project citing difficulties with the homeowner. With the closure of the program, DHCD had continued to work to find other avenues and funding sources that could potentially be utilized to complete the rehabilitations on Ms. Fultz's home and will continue to communicate these options as they are made available.
Virginia Department of Housing

CBS 6 later followed up asking if there was a timeline of any sort on when the repairs would be completed, and we are still awaiting a response.

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