Making life more comfortable for the more than 80 percent of seniors who want to remain in their own homes is the goal of an experimental collaborative project undertaken by some of the region’s top experts on aging. According to AARP, the vast majority of people want to stay in their own homes as they age. It’s a goal that would be possible for many if they could make simple modifications, often costing as little as $1,500 to $10,000, to their houses. Compared to the price of nursing homes, assisted living or adult day care — which can range from $30,000 to $80,000 a year and up — that‘s a bargain.
In 2014, the Community Foundation made a grant to four leading nonprofits that serve seniors — Southwest Solutions, Presbyterian Villages, Jewish Family Services of Metropolitan Detroit and the Hartford Development Foundation, a subsidiary of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church — to explore creative solutions for meeting the growing demand for adaptive retrofitting and home repairs for seniors in southeast Michigan.
Research conducted by the group indicates that there is a shortage of qualified contractors to take on this work. In addition to exploring new funding streams the group is also looking at opportunities to improve the supply side of the equation, such as standardizing the most common services so that more providers can be trained to perform them quickly and sustainably, at set prices that seniors can anticipate and afford.
Conversations with national home improvement franchises led to the idea of creating a business that would scale up to perform this work on a nonprofit basis. Ideally the business would manage the private, public and philanthropic dollars available to help seniors pay for home improvement work, help ensure a top-quality product and generate revenue to help the business achieve sustainability.
The jury is still out, but we are pleased to support these nonprofit organizations in their efforts to help more seniors gain access to affordable, high-quality home modification services that will allow them to live safely and independently in their own homes.