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  • Writer's pictureEddie Layton

How Seniors Lose Their Homes

“Home sweet home.”
“Home is where the heart is.”

Common sayings that one mentions without giving it a second thought. For many aging Americans however, the thought of not being able to live at home as they get older is a real possibility. Whether that is due to financial strain and lack of resources, or the condition and accessibility of their home not meeting their needs as they age, many elderly individuals find themselves forced out of their home and into assisted living, living with family members, or even worse, on the street.

This issue is not going away anytime soon. According to 2018 JCHS Household projections, over the next 20 years, households in their 80’s will be the fastest growing age group as the baby boomers continue to head into retirement and beyond. At the same time the number of retirement-age households facing cost burdens has reached an all-time high. Just 10 years ago, many of these individuals had to dump their entire 401k into their bank account after getting laid off simply to survive the Great Recession and now they haven’t had enough time to recover that lost wealth while battling unemployment ever since.

This series of events often leads to some variation of the following scenario; an elderly homeowner, who lives alone in their house, suddenly finds that they can no longer adequately maintain their home physically. Due to their fixed income, they’re not in a situation where they can pay someone to perform regular maintenance. Over time, mother nature takes its course and the home deteriorates to the point that they receive a citation from the Health Department. At this point, they must either get the repairs made, or face fines from the city. This potentially leads to increased liens and property taxes that force them to move out, often to an unknown living arrangement or even homelessness.

This is where NeighborLink Indianapolis comes in. Often, referrals come in via the health department, and projects are created for volunteers to perform the repairs that could not be afforded otherwise. When appropriate, the team works with the homeowner to guide them through the process to secure low or no interest rate loans with INHP to get the items taken care of. In any case, the homeowner gets the pleasure of seeing their home repaired, and best of all, gets to remain in their beloved home as well!

On the flip side, there are more of these scenarios than any one non-profit can tackle on their own. It will take a collective effort by many individuals and groups to turn the tide on this ongoing issue all around the country. Policy changes supporting the aging population and providing services that assist in home repair/maintenance will be key.

Is any of this new to you? Are you interested in learning more about the issues facing the low-income senior population in Indianapolis (and beyond?) Let us know at Better yet, if you’d like to get involved in helping our small organization support Indy’s seniors, we’d love to have you!

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