Keeping our older neighbors safely at home for almost 50 years

May 5, 2020
by Kevin Rafferty, National Board Chair at Rebuilding Together National

Ever since the mission of Rebuilding Together started in my home state of Texas in April 1973, we have been keeping our most vulnerable neighbors safely in their homes.

As we hear the devastating news out of assisted living facilities and see our older family members succumb to the coronavirus, I can’t help but think about the many lives the work of our volunteers has saved. We’ll never know exactly the impact of our work on each older adult we served since 1973, but we do know that most older Americans would prefer to age in place. In fact, according to AARP, 76% would prefer to remain in their current home.

At Rebuilding Together we are doing just that, we are serving our most vulnerable neighbors and through our Safe at Home program, we are providing older adults with critical home repairs and safety modifications to help them stay in the place they call home. Every year volunteers install grab bars and handrails, they build ramps to help people safely get in and out of their home, they install raised toilets and accessible showers for thousands of our neighbors nationwide. You can support our work to help our older neighbors shelter in place by donating to the Rebuilding Together COVID-19 Emergency Repairs Funds.

All of this work adds up. According to our latest survey, eight in ten neighbors we serve shared that the home repairs made a positive difference in their lives and kept their problems from getting worse. Here are some other things we found through our research:

  • Nine in ten neighbors that received repairs anticipate they can safely live in their homes over the next decade and beyond
  • Around two-thirds of neighbors who received repairs report they always feel safe at home and can move around at home without difficulty
  • Neighbors on our waitlist are nearly twice as likely to fall three or more times in the course of a year, compared to those that received repairs

A few years ago, while volunteering in New Orleans, I met Floyd. He’s lived in his home for many years and a leader in his neighborhood, serving as a deacon for his church and spending a lot of time with his friends and neighbors. That day volunteers with Rebuilding Together New Orleans we built a ramp, installed grab bars and replaced the siding on his home to help him continue to live in the community he loves.

This work would not be possible without Rebuilding Together and its many [Re]Builders. I could not imagine where Floyd and the thousands of neighbors we’ve served over the years would be if they were unable to shelter in place.