City amends program to help elderly and disabled homeowners

Columbus has amended a city housing improvement program to offer a range of services to certain eligible elderly and disabled homeowners.

The expansion allows the city to issue forgivable, three-year, interest-free loans to low-to-middle-income city homeowners who are at least 55 years old to make their homes more accessible and allow them to stay in their homes instead of moving into assisted living facilities, said Robin Hilber, the city’s community development programs coordinator.

Some of the services include grab bars in the bathroom, wheelchair access, installing handrails, among several others. Previously, assistance was limited to roofs, water heaters and HVAC systems, she said.

“This will allow us to expand so that when somebody calls and says, ‘my husband is wheelchair-bound but can’t fit through the doorway,’ we can help,” Hilber said. “Now we can expand doorways, we can put in elevated toilets, grab bars in the shower, things like that.”

The services are offered through the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which seeks to benefit low-and-middle income residents, reduce blight or meet an urgent need that is a “detriment to the health and safety of the general public,” according to the Columbus Planning Department’s website.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.