Monday, September 22, 2008

How We Help Seniors Keep Their Homes

Foreclosure—a common but unpleasant word in today’s rough housing market. Foreclosures seem to be the culprit for a great deal of our economic uncertainty as well. According to a study by AARP’s Public Policy Institute released September 18, 2008, “684,000 homeowners age 50 and over were either in foreclosure or delinquent on mortgage payments in the last six months…about 28% of all delinquencies and foreclosures[1].”

You and I may have thought that seniors were somewhat immune to this crisis—or at least minimally affected. More startling is that the seniors who are African American or Hispanic who are 50 and over “were disproportionately affected by the mortgage crisis when compared to whites[2].”

It makes me proud that we have a solution to such concerns for homeowners—our HOMES program (Home Owner Maintenance and Enhancements for Seniors). No, this is not the only solution, but when combined with other supportive services, could allow a senior to remain in his or her home.

Jerrell Saddler, Senior Citizen Services’ HOMES Manager, has successfully taken his team to record levels of repairs last month. From an average of 15 seniors helped per month one year ago, to thirty-one seniors helped per month in July to Augusts’ record-breaking fifty-three seniors helped, HOMES is touching more seniors than ever. Quantity and quality go hand-in-hand for this program, combining the passion of volunteers with the skill of four field technicians. Senior homeowners qualify for the program through homeownership, income level, and a number of other criteria, and seniors have an opportunity to donate back to the program in a variety of manners.

And soon senior homeowners who have incomes greater than 200% of the federal poverty level (current cut-off) will be able to benefit from this program. A special expansion pilot program is currently being tested with hopes that the services will be open to all seniors in 2009.
I am proud of our HOMES leadership, team and army of volunteers. Thank you for enabling seniors to enjoy a high quality of life, maintaining their independence and dignity.

[1] As quoted in Contra Costa Times according to the Associated Press; September 18, 2008;

[2] Contra Costa Times

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