Opal has lived in San Francisco for over 40 years and truly believes in the power of community. She is an artist and was one of the original attendees of the Burning Man festival. She recently had her home repaired through Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco’s Home Preservation Program.

Before her repairs started, we caught up with Opal to learn more about her story. Opal’s home is somewhat of a historic landmark in Visitation Valley. The ceiling of her charming brick living room (that notably survived the 1906 earthquake) was built using wood from abandoned ships from the Gold Rush. Her home was also previously owned by Dr. Blanche M. Baker who was a pioneer for LGBTQ rights during the ’40s and ’50s in San Francisco. Dr. Baker was a psychiatrist educating doctors and the community on LGBTQ acceptance.


As years passed, and the cost of living increased in the city, Opal had a rotating number of roommates to generate extra income. Because of this, her home was rapidly degrading “The wear and tear was obvious in 2020, things were falling apart. I had tile falling off the shower, mold, a leaky roof, and the siding was decaying,” Opal told us. When she hired a contractor to fix her tile, they told her about Habitat GSF for the additional repairs her home needed, and from there, Opal’s journey toward Home Preservation began.

Our Home Preservation program serves long-standing homeowners in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties. We partner with low-income homeowners to make repairs and improvements to ensure their homes stay warm, safe, and dry all while adapting to their needs as they age. In Opal’s case, her home required a lot of repairs, but her siding needed to be replaced as soon as possible due to the age of the home, mold, and water damage.


As an artist, Opal values the transformative power of a strong and connected community. As San Francisco becomes less affordable and people are moving, she doesn’t know as many of her neighbors from years past. “Not knowing your neighbors is a big issue in the community. If something were to happen to me, that would be bad because no one would check in on me.” Since her community isn’t as large as it once was, and as a single woman, Opal has a great need to feel safe in her home.

89% of Home Preservation households are single female head of households. Of those single female head of households, their average age is 64 years old and 79% are living alone. In addition, due to various financial circumstances, many elderly people defer necessary repairs and may be in physical danger, paying exorbitant amounts for utilities or risk displacement. This is why programs such as our Home Preservation Program are vital to key members of our community.


A few months after our first visit, we returned to Opal’s home, and she was ecstatic to finally have her safe space repaired. As Opal put it, “I’m sleeping better. Depression stays at bay. Lastly, I haven’t caught a cold or gotten sick in almost a year.” Habitat GSF is the only organization providing this level and magnitude of repairs to low-income homeowners, filling a void in the community that narrows the wealth gap over generations. At its core, our Home Preservation Program focuses on the health and well-being of our homeowners while addressing repairs that affect safety and accessibility for homeowners on limited incomes.

Opal now has the space and capacity to be involved in the community in ways she couldn’t before her repairs, such as hosting fundraisers for Burning Man and having movie premieres at her home. “I can finally resume having my home be a community gathering spot,” says Opal.

As Opal reflects on her experience with Habitat GSF, she is grateful for the experience, the warm and inviting personalities of our team, and is happy that even as an artist, she can remain in the Bay Area. According to Opal, “I thought I might have to sell the house because of the lack of maintenance, but now I want to stay for the long haul. The Home Preservation Program allowed me to stay in this home and get a fresh outlook. I have stopped stressing and worrying about the house, and I am happy and grateful every time I come home.”


“I thought I might have to sell the house because of the lack of maintenance, but now I want to stay for the long haul. The Home Preservation Program allowed me to stay in this home and get a fresh outlook.”

– Opal, Habitat GSF Home Preservation homeowner

Habitat Greater San Francisco undertakes a wide variety of critical repairs to preserve homes and keep people in their communities. We plan to conduct repairs for hundreds more homeowners in the coming years.

With your support, we can help more seniors grow old where they grew up.

Looking to get your own home repaired? Habitat Greater San Francisco is here to help. We have assisted numerous families with costly repairs such as roofs, windows, siding, and more.

Let’s start your journey together.

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