homes (nearly 90 percent, according to AARP), but that they stay healthier longer when they do. But research also shows that barely half are living in homes that are well-suited for aging. Home modifications—not to mention basic repair tasks—can be cost-prohibitive for lower-income seniors. Seniors Safe at Home—AHIP’s home repair initiative that focuses on homeowners over age 62—seeks to keep our elderly neighbors safe and to help them preserve their homes. Our vision is that no senior citizen will have to wait for an urgent home repair.
CAAR REAL ESTATE WEEKLY WWW.CAAR.COM
NEWS & VIEWS
FEBRUARY 13 - FEBRUARY 19, 2014 ISSUE 23-07
Helping Elderly Neighbors Stay Safe at Home BY JENNIFER JACOBS
ast March, a senior citizen named Edith had a very big problem. She filed a claim with her homeowner’s insurance company to get them to fix her roof that had been damaged in a spring storm. But when the agent came out to take a look, he gave her some terrible news. He told her that her roof was failing, and that the insurance company was going to cancel her homeowner’s insurance policy if she didn’t replace her roof and remove a dying tree that was hanging over her house. And he gave her 30 days to do it. Edith is 82 years old and lives by herself in the city of Charlottesville. She gets by on a Social Security income of $11,000 per year. There was no way that she would have been able to cover the cost of a roof replacement and tree removal on her own. That’s when she called AHIP. Safe at Home AHIP is a home repair nonprofit that works year-round in Charlottesville and Albemarle. We help homeowners make critical repairs to their homes.
“Our seniors get by on very low, fixed incomes, which makes it hard for them to maintain their homes. As they get older, they have trouble doing small fixes and maintenance items themselves. And they struggle with mobility issues, and with the fact that accessibility retrofits can be out of reach.”
Roofs, floors, windows, electrical and plumbing systems, wells, water heaters, furnaces, and stairs and steps—un-fancy, basic things that turn into disasters when they become a danger or fail altogether. We get a lot of calls from senior citizens like Edith. In fact, 150 of the more than 400 households on our current waiting list are home to people over age 62. “Our seniors face a lot of challenges,” says Jane Andrews, who is AHIP’s Associate Director for Rehab and Repair. “They get by on very low, fixed incomes, which makes it hard for them to maintain their homes. As they get older, they have trouble doing small fixes and maintenance items themselves. And they struggle with mobility issues, and with the fact that accessibility retrofits can be out of reach.” Their homes, she says, can become hostile and hazardous places. But, she asks, “What’s the alternative? For the seniors we help, the home that they own is often the best, most affordable place they can live. It is really important that we help them stay there for as long as they are able.” Research shows that not only do most seniors want to stay in their
CAAR and BRHBA: Helping AHIP Make the Fix Last year, AHIP completed 153 repair and rehab projects, helping 322 of our Charlottesville and Albemarle neighbors stay safe, warm, and dry. We do not do this work alone—our partners, volunteers, and donors help us carry out our mission every day, yearround. The Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors and the Blue Ridge Home Builders Association have been leaders and champions since our launch of Seniors Safe at Home in spring of 2012. They have brought awareness, volunteer muscle, and many donations to this community-wide cause. Because of their involvement and the generosity of their members, AHIP has been able to help more elderly clients like Edith make repairs, stay safe, and hold onto their homes. The 2014 Seniors Safe at Home campaign will run from April 1 to June 1, with a fundraising goal of $50,000—and anyone can join the cause. To learn more, volunteer, or make a gift, visit ahipva.org. As for Edith, the insurance company did not end up cancelling her policy. Our staff called the representative, and they put the cancellation on hold while we arranged the construction work and got it done. And now, Edith is safe and sound. Our Seniors Safe at Home partners and supporters help us do a world of good—and ensure that we can keep answering the calls that come in, every day, for help. The impact on individual lives cannot be overstated. “I had been living in a home that was not safe or healthy for me or anyone else,” an elderly client whom we helped last summer wrote to us after her project was completed. “I don’t know where I would be living today if it weren’t for AHIP.” n Jennifer Jacobs is the Executive Director of AHIP.