May is Older Americans Month, Coalition Members have helped more than 79,000 age in place

Posted By: Melanie Campbell News,
Coalition for Home Repair members have helped more than 79,000 low-income older Americans age in place.

Coalition members fill an important need in their local communities. According to the AARP, 87% of adults age 65 or older 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). Additionally, the 2023 State of the Nation's Housing Report reports older adults have the highest homeownership rates of any age group, with 79% of households ages 65 and older owning a home in 2022.

Over 15 million older adults aged 65+ are economically insecure, with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level (NCOA). For low-income households, self-funding modifications, such as a low-step shower or an accessibility ramp, might not be possible. Coalition members help these households access critical repairs, modifications, and wraparound services at little or no cost to the families - filling an important, growing need.

Aging in Place programs reduce the risk of injury due to falls. An equally important outcome is that people remain in the community and maintain quality of life. Repairs and modifications protect independence. 

Our goal is always to create safer, healthier homes. Repairs play an important part, and so do home modifications. Modifications help bridge the gap between what a person can do and what a person is required to do, which makes a safer home possible. A person is more likely to change their behavior than their environment. 

Here’s how this may play out for an older adult whose home does not meet their needs: the only bathroom is on the home's second floor. Stairs are burdensome. A person chooses to shower less frequently to avoid the physical burden of taking the stairs. Someone may be more likely to sleep on the couch if a bedroom is upstairs. These choices begin to be made repeatedly. At some point, choices may be made to forego medical care because taking the stairs to leave the home for a doctor’s visit becomes too burdensome.

Many adult children become primary caretakers for aging parents, investing labor for no pay. They join the ranks of the 53 million other adults caring for an adult loved one in the United States. When a family experiencing generational poverty enters this phase of life, wealth built by a younger generation is often invested back into the family. This could come at the opportunity cost of other investments or income, such as taking early retirement or foregoing a second job. 

Modifications for older Americans go beyond just a risk of falls - they can protect generational wealth.

Homeownership has been cited as the primary way households build wealth, stability, and community and pass wealth down to future generations. Today, two-thirds of all equity in owner-occupied housing is held by families headed by persons 55 and older, but that does not mean their homes are in habitable conditions. More than 19 million older adults live in homes that are in disrepair or ill-equipped to safely meet their needs. Repairing these homes is a means to preserve that wealth.

The Coalition supports 115+ home repair nonprofits across the nation in their goals to establish or expand home repair and aging in place service. In fact, since 2022, a majority of Coalition members report that expanding their aging in place services is their #1 programmatic priority. The Coalition prioritizes raising awareness for health and housing services for older adults. In addition, the Coalition will continue to seek resources and invest in professional development for employees of home repair organizations that serve older adults. 

For two years in a row, a majority of Coalition members reported that expanding aging in place services is their #1 programmatic priority. 

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

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

Ideas to Elevate Your Organization During Older Americans Month
  • Share a testimonial (or 2 or 3!) of an older adult program participant.
  • Share relevant local data to make a case for investment in aging in place programs.
  • Interview an older adult volunteer to highlight skills-based volunteer opportunities.
  • Spotlight staff with any relevant credentials, like CAPS, on social media to build credibility for your program.
  • Ask donors or volunteers to participate in a virtual aging simulation.
  • Thank a funder who is passionate about aging in place on social media or send a thank you note.