Demographic Changes and Aging Population: The U.S. population is aging. Today, there are more than 46 million older adults age 65 and older living in the U.S.; by 2050, that number is expected to grow to almost 90 million. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, the time the last of the baby boom cohorts reach age 65, the number of older adults is projected to increase by almost 18 million. This means by 2030, 1 in 5 Americans is projected to be 65 years old and over.[i]
Older adults overwhelmingly prefer to stay in their homes and communities as they age. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, 87 percent of adults age 65 and over want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Studies show that some 70 percent of older adults live in single-family detached homes, and nearly 90 percent intend to remain in their homes permanently. Over 35% of older adults reported having some type of disability. Millions of these individuals live in homes that lack accessibility features that support the ability to live safely and independently. In fact, the Census Bureau reveals that 1 in 3 older adult has trouble using some feature of their home.[ii]
Our goal is to help the growing population of low-income seniors improve and maintain a healthy and independent lifestyle and to enhance their quality of life by ensuring they are living in a safe home with essential services provided through our programs.
Oneida County Statistics
According to the Census Bureau, Oneida County’s population is estimated at 228,671 with 18.8% being 65 years and older. The number of housing units is 105,454 with an owner-occupied housing rate at 67%. Our geographic service area covers 1,212 square miles.[iii] That is an estimated 13,000 owner-occupied homes trying to be maintained with senior residents.
Key Informant Interviews were recently conducted with the Oneida County Office of Aging and Continuing Care, New York Connects and the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.
From September 2019 to December 1, 2020, our organization has documented forty seven (47) home repair requests of which ten (10) are for ramps and six (6) home ownership requests. Within the same time frame, Oneida County NY Connects has reported eight (8) home repair requests to date: In a meeting with Shelly Swanson, NY Connects CNY Region-2, Project Manager and her team members representing Oneida County, it was discussed that the need for wheelchair ramps and roof repairs is escalating. Many of the calls received indicate that the roof repair projects are beyond patch work and small repair costs and are in need of full removal and replacement as well as mold remediation. Many calls are generated by code citations from municipal code departments and have time constraints to correct the deficiencies. We discussed the importance of promoting awareness and conducting home assessments to identify potential problems and provide possible corrections before they become expensive and often unaffordable repairs and replacements to the homeowners.
June Hanrahan, Director of Oneida County Office of the Aging and Continuing Care, was encouraged as to the new development of our home repair and handyman programs and supports the direction of addressing the communities Emergent Issues. June emphasizes, there is a definite need for our expanded programs. There is also an alarming exposure to our elderly residents being fleeced by unscrupulous scam artists, posing as contractors and establishing trust through a professional network of vetted contractors will be beneficial to all aging in place residents.
June has invited our team to attend her staff meetings to provide training on identifying developing small home issues that could lead into major and costly problems. This has led to the importance of uniting public, private and nonprofit partners to seek comprehensive solutions to address the needs facing aging residents. Our organization’s ‘We’re Better Together’ campaign is looking at a holistic approach to combat elderly isolation, expensive home repairs and modifications by cross training the volunteers and staff of the participating agencies and organizations. The training will provide awareness throughout the different programs and services of preventative measures to help detect minor issues from becoming big expensive problems.
The key interviews have indicated that; currently, there are no Non Profit Organization handyman or repair programs that focus on providing essential services to low-income senior residents at no-cost or affordable rates in Oneida County. The key interviews provided positive feedback and pledged support to the emerging issues facing our low income and senior, disabled and veteran homeowners.