Disability Advocates of Kent County received a $975,000 grant to continue its work helping Michigan’s low-income seniors age at home.
The three-year grant will allow the organization to help 150 seniors living in Allegan, Ionia, Mecosta, Montcalm and Osceola counties.
“This is an exciting endeavor for our organization because, as our name implies, we focus on Kent County, but the same needs apply to our friends in neighboring counties, so we are eager to expand our reach with this programming,” Executive Director David Bulkowski said in a statement.
The organization will use the grant to make seniors’ homes safer and more functional, allowing them to remain in their home rather than moving to a nursing home. The upgrades include the installation of railings, lever-handle door knobs and faucets, grab bars and other adaptive equipment such as non-slip flooring for tubs, showers and stairs.
The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Older Adults Home Modification Program. Disability Advocates of Kent County is the only Michigan organization to receive one of the program’s 32 grants. HUD’s national goal is to serve 5,000 qualified beneficiaries in mostly rural areas who need home modification services.
Disability Advocates also is running the Building Opportunities, Creating Independence capital campaign, a fundraising effort to move its headquarters to the new Special Olympics Michigan Inc. campus in Byron Township. The $2.5 million fundraising campaign reached 90 percent of its goal by mid-March.
The campaign’s funding also will be used to cover construction costs of the new Home Accessibility Center program. This will be a space where people with disabilities can explore renovations to modify their homes. It will operate as a showroom for people with disabilities, their families, as well as health care and design professionals.
“The Home Accessibility Center is a response to a demonstrated need,” Disability Advocates of Kent County Development Director Peggy Helsel said in a statement. “Often people ask, ‘what does that mean? when we talk about universal design and the home, we are giving people a real-life model home to experience what a universally-accessible space can look like.”
The HUD grant was awarded in August 2021, though the organization is now looking to find senior homeowners who need home upgrades. To qualify, people must be 62 or older, have proof of home ownership, and have an income that doesn’t exceed 80 percent of the median income in their county.
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