Nonprofit receives grant to help older homeowners

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A local nonprofit serving people with disabilities was awarded a grant to benefit older, low-income homeowners.

Disability Advocates of Kent County received a $975,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of the department’s $30 million “Older Adults Home Modification Program.” The grant will enable the organization to make home modifications and repairs for older homeowners, allowing them to age in place rather than move to an assisted care facility.

Disability Advocates said it was the only Michigan organization out of 32 nonprofits, municipalities and public housing authorities nationwide to receive the award. The three-year grant is intended to benefit older people in primarily rural communities and will help 150 homeowners in Allegan, Ionia, Mecosta, Montcalm and Osceola counties.

Disability Advocates Executive Director David Bulkowski said he is eager to expand the organization’s services and assist rural homeowners who could benefit from home accessibility modifications.

“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,” Bulkowski said. “We are very grateful to our state representatives who guided us through the application process.”

The grant was awarded in August 2021. For the past several months, Disability Advocates had been finalizing its project plan and now is sharing the information in rural counties to find homeowners who will benefit from these services.

Examples of home modifications provided by the grant include installation of grab bars, railings, and lever-handled doorknobs and faucets, as well as installation of adaptive equipment, such as nonslip strips for tubs or showers.

To qualify, recipients must be age 62 or older, have proof of ownership for the dwelling they live in and have 80% area median income or lower.

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