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Disability Advocates of Kent County receives HUD grant to help low-income senior homeowners age in place

sky view of homes in a neighborhood
Rachel Elaine. | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
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Disability Advocates of Kent County receives HUD grant to help low-income senior homeowners age in place

Disability Advocates was the only organization in Michigan out of 32 nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and public housing authorities nationwide to receive an award from HUD’s $30 million “Older Adults Home Modification Program”.

Disability Advocates of Kent County has received a $975,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will enable the organization to make safety and functional home modifications and limited repairs to meet the needs of low-income senior homeowners that allow them to age in place. The three-year grant will help 150 seniors in Allegan, Ionia, Mecosta, Montcalm, and Osceola counties.

"The most wonderful thing is we’re going to be able to help people and that’s what we want to do. We all have either ourselves, our parents, we might even have a grandma that darn it all wants to stay living in her home as long as they can and doesn’t want to go to a facility, and we can help those people stay in their own home," Peggy Helsel, development director at Disability Advocates of Kent County said.

The group provides home assessments, where a registered occupational therapist reviews living situations to ensure safety and accessibility. Examples of common home modifications include installation of grab bars, railings, and lever-handled doorknobs and faucets, as well as the installation of adaptive equipment, such as non-slip strips for tub/shower or stairs. Helsel said without the grant's funding, many homeowners would struggle to afford the necessary upgrades to remain in their homes and may be forced to consider assisted care facilities.

Disability Advocates was the only organization in Michigan out of 32 nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and public housing authorities nationwide to receive an award from HUD’s $30 million “Older Adults Home Modification Program”. The national goal is to deliver home modification services to more than 5,000 qualified beneficiaries in primarily rural areas.

"I think that need is even greater. These counties are a little more rural than Kent county is, and folks don't even know the resources available out there," Helsel said.

The HUD grant was awarded in August 2021. For the past several months Disability Advocates has been finalizing its project plan and is now sharing the information in the rural counties to find senior homeowners that could benefit from these services.

To qualify, recipients need to be age 62 or older, have proof of ownership for the dwelling they live in, and have income that does not exceed 80% of the median income for their area. Helsel said many homeowners may qualify without realizing and is encouraging interested parties to check their area's threshold.

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