Habitat for Humanity Organizations Launch Statewide Older Adults Home Modifications Program

Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County, Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity and Sussex County Habitat for Humanity are launching a statewide program to reduce barriers to aging in place modifications for low-income older adults in the State of Delaware. This program is made possible by a recently awarded Older Adults Home Modification Program (OAHMP) grant of $1,248,216 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

According to Kevin Gilmore, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity CEO, the need for this program is great.  “All three Habitat organizations receive frequent inquiries from seniors who want to stay safely in their homes, but cannot afford the necessary modifications that allow them to do so,” says Gilmore. More than 25,000 low-income Delaware households face home repair needs.  Older adults face the additional burden of home modifications related to aging in place and the costs associated with these adaptations.

For more than three decades, the three Delaware Habitat for Humanity organizations have worked to make housing safer, healthier, and more affordable. Their newest initiative, Healthy Housing, expands their programing to improve housing conditions for low-income Delaware homeowners. The OAHMP will fund 180 necessary home modifications for Delaware homeowners aged 62 plus that will improve both quality of life and the health and safety of household residents. Clients will also benefit from the participation of occupational therapy professionals as well as a number of wraparound services and needs-based referrals meant to optimize each client’s home environment for safety, accessibility and quality of life. 

“This year, Delaware topped the nation as the best state to retire,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “So as more seniors look to retire in our great state of Delaware, we need programs like this one to help seniors age in their homes safely. Aging at home not only preserves Delawarean’s way of life and dignity, but it saves us money in the long run as well. I’m proud of the good work Habitat is doing on the ground to help our low-income seniors live out their golden years in their homes.”

This program is especially needed in Delaware. U.S. Census data shows more than 64,000 Delawareans aged 62 years and older own their residence and live on less than 80% of the area median income.

“Older Delawareans may find they have a difficult challenge getting around their own homes or keeping up with an accumulating need for repairs, which can create serious risks of injury for themselves or others” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons. “Initiatives like this modification program from HUD in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity up and down the state provide empathy and dignity to Delawareans that will allow them to safely remain in their residences.”

“Habitat for Humanity has long been a partner in helping close the housing gap and preparing Delawareans for homeownership. Their efforts have had incredible impacts throughout New Castle, Kent, and Sussex Counties, connecting Delawareans to housing opportunities that improve their quality of life and help create generational wealth,” said Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. “I’m proud to have worked with Senators Carper and Coons to deliver this federal funding for Habitat for Humanity to help Delaware seniors age in place on their own terms so they can live safely, independently, and with dignity.”

The OAHMP is committed to supporting seniors as they age in place through minor home modifications such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars or railing installations, sidewalk and step repairs, and more. Low-income homeowners over the age of 62 are eligible to apply.

“Our population is aging much faster than ever, and seniors are among the most vulnerable populations in America,” said Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Matthew Heckles.  “This funding will allow Delaware seniors to age in place with dignity and grace.”

The program is expected to begin taking applications in the fall of 2023. Contact your local Habitat organization by visiting www.habitatncc.org, centraldelawarehabitat.org or SussexCountyHabitat.org for more information.