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Habitat for Humanity Extends to Aging in Place Assistance in Georgia

A grant program for seniors in the Columbus, Ga. area gives older residents a new avenue to explore for receiving critical repairs and upgrades to their homes in order to age in place, provided by long standing non-profit housing advocacy organization Habitat for Humanity.

The program, called “Continuing Hope,” allows senior homeowners with adequate insurance to apply for assistance to complete critical repairs to their property.

“Non-profits have to be flexible with their programs and their funding because it’s always ebb and flow with monies and who we serve. So we noticed a lot of calls were coming in for repairs. So providing safe affordable  housing for seniors just fit right in,” says Louise Hurless, executive director of the Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity to the area’s CBS TV affiliate WRBL.

70% of homes in the Columbus area were built before 1990, while almost 56% were built prior to 1980, so for seniors aging in place on fixed incomes, it may be either very difficult or impossible to move or repair the homes they have, according to Hurless.

“New heating system, plumbing, roof leaks, anything that’s critical that needs to be done on the house and those projects run up to at least $10,000 dollars,” she tells WRBL.

In order to qualify for the critical repair grant that is attainable through Habitat for Humanity’s Continuing Hope program, an applicant must own a home in the town’s county with adequate insurance, must be at least 62 years of age or have a disability, and have up to 80% of the median income for the area: $59,600 for a family of four.

“The Aging in Place Modifications Grant may include improved lighting, and changing bathtubs into shower units,” writes WRBL reporter Teresa Whitaker. “To qualify for the Aging in Place Modifications Grant you must also own a home in [the] county, have adequate insurance, be 65 and up to 60% of the median income.”

Retiree James Decker, a beneficiary of the program, was concerned that the condition of his home was deteriorating rapidly.

“We’ve lived in the house for 20 years and it’s been the same roof so I had some leaking,” he told Whitaker. “In fact in the next room, I had a ceiling fall down and there’s some evidence of leaking, and so I had had it patched but the chief problem was that there was a hole in the roof over my garage.”

Decker learned about Continuing Hope and applied for the Aging in Place Modifications Grant, which helped provide his home with a new roof.

“I’m confident in my new roof. It has really stabilized the house,” he said.

Continuing Hope is funded through grants and a partnership between Habitat for Humanity, Wells Fargo, Columbus NeighborWorks and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the City of Columbus, Ga.

Watch the television story at WRBL.