Advocacy Tools for Older Adult Home Modifications

Posted By: Emma Carrasco Advocacy Resources,

Coalition for Home Repair members have helped more than 79,000 low-income older Americans age in place. In alignment with our goals to expand access to home repair programs nationwide, this toolkit is available at no cost to home repair nonprofits, community leaders, and partners. 

Fast Facts: The Need for Home Repairs & Modifications

  • Older adults are more likely to own their home than rent. The homeownership rate among households age 65 and over was 79.1 percent in 2022, according to the Housing Vacancy Survey.
  • According to an AARP survey, 8 in 10 older adults want to age in their current home or community. However, only 3.5 percent of the US housing stock provides all three critical accessibility features—a no-step entry, single-floor living, and extra-wide doorways and halls—that help households with reduced mobility to live safely and comfortably in their homes. (JCHS 2021 State of the Nation’s Housing Report).
  • A report by the University of Michigan brings light to the issue of seniors and people living with disabilities who struggle to access home repair resources due to quickly expended funds and long waitlists. For aging homeowners, "a decline in health is also a decline in [home] maintenance". 
  • Over 17 million older adults aged 65+ are economically insecure, with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level (NCOA).

Research Leaders & Databases

Our go-to databases for grant writing research, advocacy, or staying informed:

Older Adult Resource Library

Click the + to expand each resource and learn more.

Date: 2023

Key Topic: Older Adults

Type: Summary of Findings

Source Credit: Coalition for Home Repair, HomesRenewed Resource Center, and East Tennessee State University College of Public Health

 Falls Prevention Cohort Summary

File Type: PDF

Description: Presents findings in support of home repair and modifications for older adults, aiding in preventing falls experienced within the home 

Date: 2023

Key Topic: Older Adults

Type: Data Tool

Source Credit: Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston

 Data Tool: Elder Index

File Type: Web page

Description: This tool shows how much income older adults need to meet their basic needs and age in place with dignity by metropolitan area, county, or state.

Example of data findings for the state of West Virginia (state with the highest percentage of homeowners): The difference in housing costs between a single, older adult homeowner with a mortgage vs. one without a mortgage, is $8,700 over a course of a year. Depending on the health of that older adult, the difference between one that is in excellent health vs. poor health is $4,000 over the course of a year. To summarize, an older adult homeowner who is making monthly mortgage payments and has health needs is responsible for an additional $12,700 when compared to a neighbor who is in better health and has no mortgage responsibilities.

Date: March 2024

Key Topic: Aging Veterans

Type: Report

Source Credit: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

 Report: The Housing Needs of Aging Veterans

File Type: Web page

Description: This report highlights the specific housing needs of aging veterans (those 50 and over), identifies challenges and proposes solutions to the gaps in the system of care.

Date: November 2023

Key Topic: Older Adults

Type: Report, Publications

Source Credit: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

 Report: Housing America's Older Adults

File Type: Web page

Description: This report uniquely considers housing and the cost of care as a dual burden for older adults.

The blog post summary of report findings as they relate to the mission of the Coalition for Home Repair can be found here.

Date: September 2023

Key Topic: Advocacy

Type: Publications

Source Credit: Administration for Community Living

 Resource: Partnering to Expand Access to Home Modifications, Home Repairs, and Weatherization

File Type: PDF

Description: Provides approaches for aging, disability, and health organizations on ways to build partnerships with the housing sector.

Date: May 2023

Key Topic: Older Adults

Type: Report, Publications

Source Credit: Community Innovation and Action Center University of Missouri-St. Louis 

 No Place Like Home: The Need for and Effectiveness of Home Repairs Among Older Homeowners in St. Louis

File Type: Web page

Description: A report and evaluation of subsidized home repairs for older homeowners including key findings and policy implications.

On-Demand Webinar: 

Using Medicaid for Home Modifications

The Coalition's Grants Compliance Officer, Jill Webber, led this presentation about how home repair organizations can leverage Medicaid resources and benefits to support repairs and modifications for clients. Robin Hartmann, Executive Director of Umpqua Valley Habitat for Humanity, and Virginia Ohler, Executive Director of West Tuality Habitat for Humanity, also shared about their experiences utilizing Medicaid in providing home modifications. 

How the Coalition Supports Aging in Place Programs

Coalition for Home Repair members have helped more than 79,000 low-income older Americans age in place. Over the years, Coalition for Home Repair members have consistently reported rising numbers in the number of older adults they serve and another constant, is that the older population is the largest share of residents served by our Coalition members when measured collectively. In program year 2022, Coalition members each served an average of 95 older adults and in program year 2023, that catapulted to an organizational average of 171 older adults served (an astonishing 80% increase!).

Since 2022, the Coalition has supported home repair nonprofits in their aging in place goals by:

  • funding Certified Aging in Place Specialist certifications for 60+ home repair providers
  • Securing $1,00,000 for the Older Adult Home Modification Program from HUD
  • Providing 500+ training hours on services and repairs relating to helping low-income people age in place
  • Conducted a fall-prevention data collection project to garner support from healthcare systems and show the potential financial impact of home modifications

Additionally, our 6-month follow-up findings from our Falls Prevention Data Demonstration Project demonstrated noteworthy decreases in the number of falls within the home (73% decrease) and while entering or exiting the home (89% decrease), pointing towards the positive impacts that a repair project or modification can have on addressing safety in the home. A one-page summary of the 6-month project findings can be found below.

For the Coalition for Home Repair, home repair and modification programs are more than a fix or change to a structure; home repair can proactively reduce homelessness, protect generational assets, stabilize neighborhoods and communities at large, and prevent illness and injury.  As a national, nonprofit committed to home repair as a post-purchase approach to maintaining homeownership for low-income households, we are positioned to serve as a convener and activator of change for the benefit of homeowners nationwide, through advocacy for increased investments and resources into keeping affordable homes in conditions that promote aging-in-place and generational wealth building.

Is your nonprofit or municipality growing aging in place programs? Consider membership in the Coalition for access to webinars, training grants, and more.