WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Recently, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Angus King (I-ME) introduced a bill to help seniors retain their independence and safely live at home. The bill, The Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act would better coordinate the already-existing federal home modification programs and create more consumer-friendly information so that seniors can utilize these programs to their benefit. Ayotte is a co-founding member of the Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus.
“As a co-founding member of the ACT Caucus, I believe it’s important that we help seniors live independently where they want to be – in their own homes,” said Senator Ayotte. “Our legislation helps to simplify the mess of federal home modification assistance programs and make it easier for aging New Hampshire residents to make adjustments to their homes so that they can life more safely and comfortably while maintaining their independence.”
Earlier this year, The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report called Healthy Aging Begins at Home that identified numerous federal programs, benefits, or waivers spread across least five federal departments that can be used to pay for modifications, rehabilitations, or weatherization efforts on homes to help older Americans age in place. However, not all of those resources dedicate 100 percent of their funding to modifications while others may only narrowly target specific populations, like rural seniors or disabled veterans. The convoluted mix of programs and requirements is difficult to understand for older Americans, meaning that many of the programs may not be utilized to their best extent. Meanwhile, it’s unclear how much federal funding is actually spent annually on home assessments and modifications for seniors.
To help, The Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act would:
• Establish a cross-cutting initiative, to be carried out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Aging, to coordinate federal efforts and programs that provide home modification resources and assistance for older people. By coordinating existing programs and reporting annually on key data points, as the legislation would require, the Assistant Secretary would be able to provide a better understanding of how federal programs are helping seniors live independently and safely and how those programs could be improved.
• Require the Assistant Secretary to publish an educational, consumer-friendly brochure to provide easily accessible information that could help older adults better understand and take advantage of federal programs.