Home Grown

Housing program

Senior Handyman Program

Northwest suburbs

Goal

To encourage seniors to age in place by provideing quality and trusted home improvement services for seniors, allowing them to age in place

Target

Senior populations in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Palatine and Rolling Meadows

Financing

The program is funded by grants and fees collected through operating the program. Approximately 44% of the program's expenses are covered by fees collected from program participants.

Successes

Since its inception in 2014, nearly 800 seniors 65 years and older have received services through the program.

Lessons learned

Seniors are often fearful of being taken advantage of when their homes need repairs. The program has retained the same handyman since 2000, who is contracted to make minor home repairs. The seniors trust and have good relations with the handyman, which has been an important factor in the program's success.

Program background

The Senior Handyman Program has had a long and successful history in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The program started in Rolling Meadows in 1999 after a survey geared toward the senior community identified a need for a trusted handyman for minor home repairs and maintenance. In 2013, a Senior Housing Needs Assessment prepared for the five communities belonging to the Northwest Suburban Housing Collaborative (NWSHC)—Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Palatine and Rolling Meadows—recommended expanding the program to serve seniors in all five communities. The program was expanded in 2014 and is managed by the North West Housing Partnership (NWHP). The program has served as a successful model for intergovernmental collaboration, and has been critical in delivering services needed for community residents to age in place.

How it works

Residents 65 years of age and older that are in need of minor repairs to their homes can contact NWHP to determine if they qualify for the program. Repairs that the program covers include:

  • Toilet repair and replacements
  • Grab bar installation
  • Faucet repair and replacements
  • Door and door lock repair and replacements
  • Small drywall repair and painting of repaired area only
  • Light fixture repair and replacement
  • Drain repair
  • Other miscellaneous small repairs

Residents schedule all repairs directly with the contracted handyman. The hourly rate is either $10, $20 or $30 based on household income level. While homeowners are responsible for the cost of materials, NWHP will seek donated materials if the household is not able to cover the cost. For home modifications beyond the scope of the program, NWHP will work with seniors to identify trusted contractors and find financial resources as needed. 

NWHP, with assistance from the NWSHC and other partners, are looking to expand the impact of the Senior Handyman Program by shifting toward a more holistic approach to health and housing. The new model, already operating in other parts of the country, would utilize occupational therapists, registered nurses and handymen to integrate home repairs with proactive health care services. These professionals would make regular, coordinated home visits to better help people age in place and improve quality of life.

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