Nicknamed Chiberia for its extreme cold during the winter, Chicago can be a hard place to live, especially for the city’s low-income elderly. With little money to allocate for home maintenance and upkeep, many low-income seniors have a tough time enduring. That’s where Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly comes in — H.O.M.E. for short.
For the past 30 years, H.O.M.E., 4th Annual Philanthropy Awards winner in the Human Services – Social Services category, has helped seniors remain independent and active in their community by offering intergenerational living opportunities and a variety of citywide support services.
“We’re really a lifeline for these folks,” remarks Bruce Otto, Executive Director for H.O.M.E. “We help them obtain the independence they need.”
That lifeline can be as simple as helping seniors reach the grocery store. Many of the seniors H.O.M.E serves live in food deserts, meaning access to healthy food is extremely limited. H.O.M.E. provides a bus to the grocery store, where seniors access food, medicine, and home supplies.
The help does not stop there. H.O.M.E. also offers an “Upkeep and Repair” program that provided more than 700 home repairs for low income seniors in 2014, many of which were emergency situations, according to their annual report. With three full-time handymen employed, the organization repairs broken furnaces and installs grab bars among other maintenance work to keep seniors safe and able to live independently.
Most impressively, H.O.M.E. offers intergenerational housing where families, students and seniors live together and blend social activities for a dynamic understanding amongst generations. Warding off feelings of loneliness and isolation, intergenerational housing creates opportunities for peer companionship and help. Resident Assistants living at Good Life Senior Residences assist seniors as needed, whether that be helping them travel to medical appointments or assist in activities.
Otto recalls a touching story of moving a senior, who had previously been living in her car, to the housing complex. “That was one of my favorite moments. Now she has real housing and friends — it really has become a home for her.”
H.O.M.E. By the Numbers:
*Source: Charity Navigator
Award Sponsor: Edwardson Family Foundation
Photo courtesy of H.O.M.E.