STATE FUNDING MAKES DREAM COME TRUE
By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Paralyzed after a farming accident when he was 11, James Scofield, now 31, says he values patience, accessibility and independence above all else.
Now, he can enjoy all those things in his new, fully customized and accessible single-wide, set back off Mooney Road, framed by forest trees, courtesy of Otsego Rural Housing Assistance (ORHA).
The lifelong Worcester resident not only can enjoy hunting, fishing and working on cars with his 7-month-old, purebred chocolate lab Sky and 3-year-old pitbull-lab mix Zeus in his free time, but he is also self-sufficient.
Scofield takes care of himself without help, and assists friends in need, often plowing his neighbors’ driveways.
The young man had been living with his mother, Michele, but he eventually wanted a place of his own. He bought land, planned to put a used trailer there. His brother Daniel cleared the site, and a slab was installed.
When he approached Latham Homes in Oneonta, Herb Fiederer recommended Scofield get in touch with ORHA Director Timothy Peters.
He might qualify for funds through the state’s Mobile & Manufactured Housing Replacement program, Fiederer reasoned.
Extensive planning for a fully customized single-wide, one-bed, two-bath unit started, all complete in time for Christmas.
“It was great,” Scofield said, who had never lived in a fully accessible unit; he even opted to keep the standard countertop height. “I was able to spend Thanksgiving at my mom’s, and then my first Christmas here.”
Modifying one bedroom into a utility room gave him more space in the hallways. A shower space was made wheelchair accessible.
The unit also has two ramps, both wide enough and reinforced to withstand the weight of a four-wheeler – one of Scofield’s many hobbies. His disability does not keep Scofield from doing donuts in the driveway.
Selecting the color pallet for the interior and exterior, Scofield was more than pleased on a tour of his new home the other day.
“The amount of work and money I would have had to put into the used trailer – and it still wouldn’t be this accessible – is crazy,” Scofield said, joking that he had to “settle” for stainless steel appliances.
He said he enjoyed working with Fiederer and Peters, and the feeling was mutual.
“He’s an extremely interesting, capable and resourceful young man; he’s your typical Upstate New Yorker,” Peters said. “I think a lot of him,” Fiederer said.
To be eligible, he said, a participant’s household income can’t exceed 80 percent of the region’s median income. Plus, the mobile, modular or site-built home must be an owner’s primary residence.
Under the grant, property owners may buy a mobile, modular or site-built home.