Erin Schmidt

Lawrence Habitat for Humanity is celebrating its thirtieth year in the community by adding a new program called “Aging in Place.”

Erin Schmidt, coordinator for the initiative, explains that homeowners already trust Habitat for Humanity to give them dependable and affordable work and interest-free loans. The aim of the new program is to extend that reputation to help senior homeowners in Douglas and Jefferson Counties continue to live in their own homes safely and independently for as many years as possible.

The “Aging in Place” program will tackle external and relatively small home repairs and improvements. Applicants may need ramps; handrails; removal of trip/fall hazards; house painting; porch repair; gutter/soffit repair; siding repair; and/or minor roof repair. It is not an emergency service.

To be qualified for “Aging in Place,” a homeowner must be age 55 or older, live in the home to be repaired, and have income less than 80% of the median household income ($4,079/month). The average applicant is 70 years old, has 44% of the median income, and pays $277 for materials. Repayment for materials costs is based on a sliding scale, likely in the form of interest-free loans for materials. There is no labor cost, as the work is done by volunteers.

As with other Habitat for Humanity programs, recipients are expected to invest in the work. For seniors, this investment will likely be in “social equity,” depending on what they are able to contribute. They may write thank you notes, bake cookies for workers, or help others who live in the neighborhood.