Affordable housing bond funding helps seniors 'age in place' through home repair program

When Austin voters approved a $250 million affordable housing bond in 2018, they signed off on using part of that funding to expand a home repair program for low-income residents. Many beneficiaries are seniors.
When Austin voters approved a $250 million affordable housing bond in 2018, they signed off on using part of that funding to expand a home repair program for low-income residents. Many beneficiaries are seniors.

When Austin voters approved a $250 million affordable housing bond in 2018, they signed off on using part of that funding to expand a home repair program for low-income residents. Many beneficiaries are seniors.

When Austin voters approved a historic $250 million affordable housing bond in 2018, they signed off on a $28 million investment in home repairs for low-income residents.

Many of these residents are seniors who purchased their homes and paid off their mortgages many years ago, said Charles Cloutman, vice president for home repair at Meals on Wheels Central Texas, one of a handful of local nonprofits that provide home repair services in the city of Austin.

“The idea of a low-income homeowner, those two words don’t get together in Austin,” Cloutman said.

Meals on Wheels Central Texas is a nonprofit that provides daily meals to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. For 10 years, it has also offered a home repair program that serves around 200 seniors annually across 14 counties in Central Austin.

“It’s the same problem no matter where you go—the poor just getting poorer,” Cloutman said. “In Travis County, it’s worse. The taxes just keep getting higher.”


Many seniors’ homes are in serious disrepair and have been neglected for years because their owners cannot afford to fix them up, Cloutman said.

Because of the 2018 bond funding, however, Cloutman said Meals on Wheels was able to negotiate with the city of Austin this year to increase its maximum home repair funding grant from $15,000 to $20,000, which is closer to the average amount the local nonprofit spends per home.

Typical repairs include replacing a roof or retrofitting a home to be accessible for wheelchair use. Because they are repairs, rather than renovations, they do not drive up the property value, further burdening the homeowner.

“We’re making their house no longer their enemy, but their friend,” Cloutman said.

Helping seniors age in place is core to Meal on Wheels’ mission as well as to the city’s age-friendly plan.

“We do this obviously for the person’s sake but also for the ripple effects,” Cloutman said. “That [home] repair actually stabilizes the neighborhood.”

When seniors are able to stay in their homes, they maintain their social networks, whether through their church community, neighbors or a familiar grocery store. It also helps delay gentrification when senior residents—often the only low-income homeowners in a given area—are able to stay put.

Meals on Wheels is one of a handful of nonprofits offering home repair services to low-income residents in Austin, but Cloutman said the need far exceeds the resources available.

The Austin-Round Rock metro is home to the country’s second-fastest growing population of adults age 65 and older, as well as the fastest-growing population of adults between 55 and 64 years old, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“There’s no silver bullet,” Cloutman said. “But we have to reach out and help these people.”


MOST RECENT

Photo of three men drinking at a tiki bar
Ramen Tatsu-Ya readies new South Austin concept, plus more area business news

Tiki bar and restaurant Tiki Tatsu-Ya is set to open later this summer.

Minnesota-based Rockler Woodworking and Hardware will open a location in La Frontera in late September. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rockler Woodworking and Hardware coming to Round Rock

Minnesota-based Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is coming to La Frontera in Round Rock in late September.

The proposed Wild Ridge master-planned neighborhood northeast of downtown Dripping Springs would include 960 homes on 40- to 60-foot-wide lots. (Courtesy City of Dripping Springs)
Master-planned neighborhood in Dripping Springs to bring 960 homes, new roads

The proposed development by Meritage Homes would feature amenities such as a disc golf course.

Jasper Brown, interim chief of Austin Travis County EMS, proposed that the city add $1.2 million to its budget for EMS to prepare for mass shootings. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin council considers adding millions to budget for mass shooting response, mental health crises

A combined $8.5 million could fund clinicians' work along with training and ballistic vests in case of mass shootings

Q&A: Greg Smith, executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition

Greg Smith is the former superintendent of Clear Creek ISD and became executive director of Fast Growth School Coalition in December 2020. 

Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County proposes tax rate for 2021-22 fiscal year, prepares for budget approval process

Due to increasing property values, the property tax rate is expected to be around $0.017 lower in the coming fiscal year.

Photo of school supples
Parents weigh in: What are your considerations heading into the 2021-22 school year?

Community Impact Newspaper seeks parent feedback as we prepare for our annual education edition.

Photo of the Austin Police Department
City of Austin certifies Save Austin Now's petition to increase police staffing, adding it to fall ballot

The measure would require two police officers for every 1,000 area residents, among other provisions.

Photo of a doctor with a pregnant woman
Austin health experts warn delta variant could pose higher risk for pregnant women

Maternal medicine doctors across Central Texas have seen increasing numbers of pregnant women coming to the hospital with breathing issues and pregnancy complications as a result of COVID-19.

Wayback Burgers makes cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
6 eateries open or coming to Cedar Park, Leander; Trudy's North Star reopens in Northwest Austin and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, including Tiff's Treats opening in Hutto.

Trudy's Tex-Mex courtesy photo
Trudy’s North Star reopens with renovated restaurant, new menu

The restaurant underwent recent renovations to its dining rooms, exterior dining spaces and bar areas.

Road closure updates graphic
TxDOT to close I-35 main lanes in North Austin late Aug. 2 and 3

Southbound and northbound I-35 lanes will close late at night Aug. 2 and 3 as the state works on new flyovers.