Rebuilding Together Affiliates Improve Home Safety and Health for Neighbors in Need

November 25, 2020
by Megan Hicks, Director, Enterprise Risk Management at Rebuilding Together National

“My house has five stairs to get into. … With hip problems I'm not able to get in or out without pain. You put a ramp in. Now it is easier, thanks to you all.” –Survey Respondent

“I feel greatly relieved and happier about my home being safer and cleaner than it was before.” –Survey Respondent

With stay at home orders and other social distancing precautions, people are told that in order to be safe, they must stay at home—but many live in substandard housing conditions that puts their health and safety at risk.

Falls are the most common source of home injuries1 and are a particular concern for Rebuilding Together affiliates. In 2019, 76% of homes served included a resident over the age of 65, many of which have mobility issues that make it difficult to remain safely at home.  In addition, most market-rate housing - including affordable housing - lacks basic accessibility features necessary to function in the home. Falls among older adults are common and costly: over three million older adults in the US need medical treatment for falls each year2, while medical costs related to falls in 2015 totaled over $50 billion.3

Rebuilding Together affiliates address the risk of falls through home modifications which are proven to reduce home hazards.4 The Safe at Home program provides free preventative home modifications to people with mobility issues and other disabilities to improve accessibility, reduce falls, increase independence, and facilitate aging-in place. In our recent impact measurement pilot, five affiliates completed repairs including tub/toilet modifications, installation of grab bars and handrails, lighting improvements and installation of durable flooring. Of the homeowners surveyed by pilot group affiliates, almost 45% fell or had a close call in the six months before receiving repairs.  After repairs were made, nearly 70% of respondents felt they had a low chance or no chance of falling. Repairs also made it possible for nearly 100% of residents to have safe and accessible entryways to their home—a common area for a fall to occur. 

Along with addressing fall risk, pilot group affiliates made improvements to ventilation, water leaks, lighting, fire safety, home security and other critical home repairs.  Survey results for these repairs indicate that homeowners experienced significant improvements in home safety and overall felt safer in their homes after repairs were completed. In addition, nearly two thirds of neighbors who reported their health was less than good prior to repairs said their health improved after the repairs were completed.

With more time than ever spent at home, it is essential to address home safety to prevent hospital admission and declines in health status. To read more about how Rebuilding Together affiliates improve home safety for our neighbors in need, read the full Impact Measurement Pilot Report.


1 Home Safety Council. (2004). The State of Home Safety in America: Facts About Unintentional Injuries in the Home. C. Runyan & C. Casteel (Eds.). Washington, D.C.: Home Safety Council.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Accessed August 5, 2016.
3Florence CS, Bergen G, Atherly A, Burns ER, Stevens JA, Drake C. Medical Costs of Fatal and Nonfatal Falls in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018 March, DOI:10.1111/jgs.15304
4 Nikolaus, T. & Bach, M. (2003). Preventing falls in community‐dwelling frail older people using a Home Intervention Team (HIT): Results from the Randomized Falls–HIT Trial. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 51(3), 300–305. Retrieved from