Nationwide, millions of older low-income homeowners struggle to make critical repairs and home modifications necessary to safely age in place. AARP Foundation has established a program called Home Repair Accelerator to address this issue by supporting new models of sustainable and low-cost home repair assistance.
In January 2013, AARP Foundation provided support to four organizations to develop new models of home repair assistance. This support has proven instrumental in helping these nonprofit organizations develop cost-recovery models that provide increased and sustainable home repair services to low-income 50+ households. In simplest terms, cost-recovery models balance the costs of the repairs against savings to the homeowners because of the repairs – such as lower utility bills resulting from energy-saving repairs.
With AARP Foundation’s support, Habitat for Humanity International developed a 50+ Repair Program, representing a home repair assistance model that could easily be replicated on a national level. Famous for its work in marshaling volunteers to build homes for poor families, Habitat has affiliates across the country and around the world that provide tailored, grassroots help based on an intimate knowledge of their own communities. Seven Habitat affiliates applied the 50+ Repair Program to assist low-income 50+ homeowners with critical repairs and home modifications, thereby introducing a new form of volunteer-driven assistance to the standard Habitat approach. One of the affiliates, Habitat for Humanity of Fresno County, California, used the 50+ Repair Program to expand their Ramps and Rails program and neighborhood revitalization efforts.
Related Video: Ramps and Rails program offers assistance
Rebuilding Together had already implemented a “Safe at Home” program to provide home modifications and aging-in-place services to low-income homeowners; AARP Foundation’s support allowed them to engage a group of affiliates in the creation of a “program in a box” to extend these services to a wider group of homeowners, including moderate-income older homeowners. Through a cost-recovery program, this extended version of Safe at Home enabled homeowners who would typically not have qualified for Rebuilding Together’s no-cost home repair assistance to receive services on a sliding payment scale. This model represented an approach focused on cost effectiveness and partnering with homeowners to provide affordable assistance.