Housing Highlights Home Modification
WHAT IS HOME MODIFICATION AND REPAIR?
- Modifications are adaptations to homes that can make it easier
and safer to carry out activities such as bathing, cooking, and climbing
- Repairs are alterations to the physical structure of the home
to improve its overall safety and condition.
WHY IS HOME MODIFICATION AND REPAIR IMPORTANT?
- Home modification and repair can help prevent accidents such as falls.
Research suggests that one-third to one-half of home accidents can be
prevented by modification and repair.
- Home modification and repair can allow people to remain in their homes.
- Older people tend to live in older homes that often need repairs and
modifications. Over 60% of older persons live in homes more than
20 years old.
- Home modification and repair can accommodate lifestyle changes and
HOW CAN HOME MODIFICATION AND REPAIRS PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE
AND PREVENT ACCIDENTS?
|Difficutly getting in and out of the shower
||Install grab bars, showers seats or transfer benches.
|Slipping in the tub or shower
||Place non-skid strips or decals in the tub or shower
|Difficulty turning faucet handels or doorknobs
||Replace with lever handles
|Access to home
|Inadequate heating or ventilation
||Install insulation, storm windows and air conditioning
|Problems climbing stairs
||Install handrails for support
While some home modification and repair programs charge for alterations,
many programs provide services free of charge or a reduced rates for eligible
older people. For more information about financial assistance, contact
- Farmers Home Administration: Various grants and loans
are available for rural low-income elders.
- Local Community Development Department: Many cities
and towns use Community Development Block Grants to help citizens maintain
and upgrade their homes.
- Local Welfare or Energy Department: Two programs from
the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization
Assistance Program (WAP) of the U.S. Department of Energy, provide funds
to weatherize the homes of lower income persons.
- Physician or Health Care Provider: Funds from Medicare
and Medicaid are available for durable medical equipment with a doctor's
- Local Office on Aging: Funds from the Older Americans
Act Title III often can be used to modify and repair homes.
- Local Lenders and Banks: Some lenders offer Home Equity
Conversion Mortgages (HECM's) that allow homeowners to turn the value
of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan
GOOD NEWS FOR RENTERS:
The Fair Housing Act of 1988 Section 6(a) makes it illegal for landlords
to refuse to let tenants make reasonable modificaion to their house or
apartment if the tenant is willing to pay for the changes. The law also
requires new construction of dwellings with four or more units to include
features such as wheelchair accessiblilty, reinforced walls to accomodate
later installation of grab bars in bathrooms, and accessible electrical
outlets and thermostats.
WHERE TO GET HELP
There are several ways to modify and repair your home. You can: 1) do
it yourself, or get a friend or relative to help; 2) hire a handyman or
contractor; 3) contact a home modification and repair program. Programs
can be located through your:
- Local area agency on aging
- State department on aging
- State housing finance agency
- Department of public welfare
- Department of community development
- Senior center
- Independent living center
If you need to use a contractor consider taking these steps:
- Get recommendations from friends who have had similar projects
- Hire a licensed and bonded contractor. Be specific about changes
you wish to make in advance.
- Ask for a written agreement, with only a small down payment.
Make the final payment only after the project is completed.
- Check with your local Better Business Bureau regarding the
contractor's reliability and performance record.
Home Safety Guide for Older People: Check It Out/Fix It Up
By Jon Pynoos and Evelyn Cohen
Serif Press, Inc.
1331 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005
For more information, call: (202)737-4650
Safety for Older Consumers
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington, D.C. 20207
For more information, call: 1-800-638-2772
The DoAble Renewable Home: Making Your Home Fit Your Needs (D12470)
AARP Fulfillment, Consumer Affairs
601 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20049
For more information, call: (202) 972-4700
Price: Free (single copies).
For more information, write to:
the National Resource and Policy Center on Housing and Long Term Care
USC, Andrus Gerontology Center
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191.
NATIONAL POLICY AND RESOURCE CENTER ON HOUSING AND LONG TERM CARE
A project supported by the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services Grant No. 90AM0498/02. 8/92