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Bath Housing Receives $150K Aging at Home Grant

June 17, 2022

Maine State Housing Authority Awards $150,000 to Bath Housing
Grant to Support Bath Housing’s Innovative
Aging-in-Place Program “Comfortably Home”


BATH—MaineHousing has awarded Bath Housing Development Corporation a
$150,000 grant to continue its trailblazing “Comfortably Home” program.
“We’re so thrilled to be the recipient of a MaineHousing ‘Community Aging in Place’
grant,” Bath Housing Executive Director Debora Keller said. “This will allow us to serve
about 60 homeowners this year.”


Keller created Comfortably Home in 2015 when she saw the maintenance challenges
facing older homeowners and people with disabilities who wanted to thrive in their own
homes.


“We created Comfortably Home with the belief that safe, stable housing is critical to
health and wellness,” Keller said. “We know people want to stay in their own homes as
they age, but often their homes present potentially serious health and safety issues.”
Installing hand rails and shower seats, repairing stairs and windows, weatherizing, and
improving lighting are just some of the basic improvements that can make a critical
difference in safety.


Judy, a Comfortably Home client in Georgetown who lost her husband 14 years ago,
says the program was critical to her living at home under safe circumstances. “I couldn’t
get out my back stairs if I needed to, say in case of a fire ... the steps were falling apart;
and now those are all fixed, and with new handrails,” she said. “They even put solar
lights on the posts so it lights up at night. They put a grab rail in my shower, and at first
I thought, ‘Oh, that’s not necessary.’” She laughed. “Well, I use it all the time, and
wonder how I did without it.”


Other issues addressed in Judy’s home — in two work sessions — include repairing a
window sash, cleaning out her furnace filters and clearing a dryer vent. Dryer vent
build-up can cause fire.


MaineHousing’s Community Aging in Place Grant began in 2017 to support the
replication of Bath Housing’s Comfortably Home. The inaugural funding year provided
support for five Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and has now expanded to ten PHAs.
Aggregated data from the program show a remarkable decline of 60% in self-reported
injurious falls and hospitalizations each year.


“Over the past seven years, we’ve worked with more than 270 homeowners and have
seen consistently positive results every single time,” Keller said. “Modifications that
may seem minor can have a dramatic positive impact on a person’s ability to thrive in
their home.”


Not only do many people prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, but these success
stories also reduce pressure on waiting lists for housing assistance, allowing housing
authorities’ limited resources to serve those with the greatest need.


“It’s just invaluable,” Judy said. “I don’t think many people know about this program.
These are things I could never have done myself.”


Comfortably Home services extend to areas within a 15-mile radius of Bath. This
includes Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Brunswick, Durham, Freeport,
Georgetown, Lisbon, Litchfield, Phippsburg, Richmond, Sebasco, Topsham and
Woolwich.


To find out if you are eligible, contact Comfortably Home Coordinator Kristen McEvoy
at kmcevoy@bathhousing.org or call (207) 295-3317.
* * *
Photo: Matt Thompson, Comfortably Home Maintenance Technician, in the process of
installing a strobe detector. In homes like this one, where someone is unable to hear
the sound of a smoke detector, installing a detector that also includes a visual alarm is
a potentially lifesaving modification.

 

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