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Federal funding will help senior homeowners

AginginPlace.jpg
Kat Bolus
/
WVIA News
Jesse Ergott, right, president and CEO of NeighborWorks of NEPA, speaks during a funding announcement. He is joined by Jim Kuchwara, veteran and older homeowner, left, and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who helped secure $1 million for the organization.

Through NeighborWorks of NEPA, Mary Ann Bauman’s house received needed upgrades to help her late husband stay safe and be comfortable at home.

Now, with $1 million in federal funding, 115 more seniors across Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties will also have that opportunity for safety and comfort.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey visited the nonprofit’s headquarters in Scranton on Friday, Jan. 20. The funding, secured by both Casey and U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright, will go towards the NeighborWork’s Aging in Place Program. It provides assistance for homeowners 60 and above so that they can continue living safely and with dignity in their homes.

Jesse Ergott, president and CEO of NeighborWorks, said the average cost of a home modification is $10,000, while the average cost of assisted living is $4,500 a month.

"Accessibility improvements, stair glides, walk-in showers and bathrooms, all those types of things are really, really crucial to keeping our seniors safe in our homes," he said.

Seniors have had bathroom additions added to their homes and their roofs and furnaces repaired through Aging in Place.

Ergott added the program has already helped 700 seniors, like Bauman.

Several years back Bauman’s husband became ill.

“We're one of those homes with the two floors and only the bathroom upstairs," she said.

Bauman was set up with NeighborWorks and within two weeks representatives were preparing for her home upgrades at no cost to her family.

A handicap ramp was build in the back of her house and a comfort-height toilet installed in her bathroom. New banisters and new steps were added to the front porch of their West Scranton home.

“He could then go out and sit ... on the porch," she said. "It was it was just fantastic."

Bauman said the last two years of her husband’s life were really tough.

“And till the day he died, he was at home," she said.

Providing the type of upgrades offered through Aging in Place helps seniors before it’s too late, before they have a fall or incident at home, Casey said.

“I'm grateful for the way that they lift up these issues every day and make it a priority to focus on on these issues for our seniors," said Casey.

Seniors can learn more about the program through their county’s Area Agency on Aging.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.