By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A city program that keeps low-income residents in their homes is starting to bear fruit.

With balloon in hand, city officials arrived at 80-year-old Elonza Robinson’s home in Nicetown.

“It was a surprise,” Robinson said. “It was a surprise that they called me.”

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Robinson was one of the first residents to benefit from the program after years of backlog. For years, she struggled climbing the stairs.

“I had chest pains going up the steps,” she said.

But, last month, the city installed an AirGlide and an accessible bathroom on the first floor. Now she’s mobile.

“If an individual is in a house and they can’t put a new roof on or they can’t do the plumbing then that house will eventually become a vacant property,” said Council President Darrell Clarke.

Clarke introduced the bill that’s producing $100 million for the city’s Housing Preservation Program, which began releasing funds in May to pay for upwards of $15,000 in repairs, modifications and weatherization to extend the life of up to 6,000 low-income homes, like one on North Broad Street, where a wall collapsed over the winter. It could have been fixed for just a few thousand dollars.

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Thousands are waiting, but others can apply.

“It not only saves them money because they don’t have to get an apartment,” Clarke said, “but it also keeps the houses on the tax payer rolls.”

For seniors like Miss Elonza, modifications like the Airglide and an accessible bathroom equal life.

“When people get older and can’t move, what do they do? They die,” Robinson said. “I can move around.”

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