Serving low-income and vulnerable older adults has always been at the heart of the Weinberg Foundation’s mission. In particular, the Foundation prioritizes projects that enable older adults to age independently, within their communities, and with maximum quality of life. According to the National Aging in Place Council, over 90 percent of older adults say that they would prefer to age in place instead of moving into senior housing. But there can be a significant gap between that desire and their ability to modify and maintain their homes so that they can continue living in them. The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to exacerbate that gap.
This is why programs like HUBS (Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors)—which was launched in 2015 to bring Baltimore-based nonprofits together to streamline the delivery of home repairs and modifications for older adults—are so vital. By consolidating the efforts of several organizations, HUBS creates efficiencies in referral, intake, and application procedures; ensures that clients are matched with the correct services; and eliminates redundancies so that a greater number of older adults can live in homes that are safe, healthy, and comfortable. The Foundation has already invested $8.5 million to nine different nonprofits that have conducted lifesaving home repairs for more than 2,000 older adults in Baltimore City. This year, the Foundation committed another $4.5 million over three years to guarantee services for at least 915 additional individuals.
Building upon the success of HUBS in the City, the Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA), along with nonprofit partners Civic Works; CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.; Dundalk Renaissance Corporation; and Rebuilding Together Baltimore, recently launched BCAUSE (Baltimore County Age-Friendly Upgrades for Seniors). BCAUSE will provide the same services as HUBS, but in the Baltimore County region. The Foundation is proud to support this expansion, still in its first year, with an $800,000 grant to serve 100 older adults. There are 119,329 older adult households in Baltimore County, and a significant percentage of them are currently living in unaffordable housing, making it unlikely they can maintain their homes and install the safety modifications necessary for them to age in place:
- 7 percent of older adults have incomes at or below 150 percent of the poverty rate
- 25 percent of older adult homeowners pay more than 30 percent of their income in housing expenses
Beyond not being able to afford the necessary repairs and modifications, many low-income, older adult Baltimore County residents are more isolated and less likely to be connected to these services than their Baltimore City-dwelling counterparts living in more densely populated areas. BCAUSE will be able to help these Baltimore County residents, ages 65 and older with incomes at or less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income, who need home repairs in order to continue aging in place. Each person will receive comprehensive case management to make sure they are receiving all the services and benefits they are entitled to. When necessary, an Occupational Therapist will provide guidance on safety device use and placement and work with clients on skills they want to improve for daily living. They will be referred to the program from Baltimore County’s Maryland Access Point (MAP), Adult Evaluation and Review Services, and other home and community-based programs managed by BCDA.