New Senior Home Repair program will help Milwaukee's older low-income homeowners

NOW: New Senior Home Repair program will help Milwaukee’s older low-income homeowners

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Milwaukee County is expanding their efforts to ensure senior, low-income residents feel comfortable in their homes.

The new Senior Home Repair program aims to help those on fixed incomes tackle emergency repairs through zero-interest loans and grants.

"Linking housing services with senior services in a way that serves both missions is really what we're trying to do within the department," said James Mathy, housing administrator at Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The Senior Home Repair program will provide nearly a million dollars toward home repairs in the city of Milwaukee.

"It could be anything from a roof to electric repairs, furnaces, accessibility," Mathy explained.

In the past, the county has provided similar help outside of the city through federal aid, which excluded the city.

"The federal funds, we can use in the suburb areas. We can't work in the city of Milwaukee normally, because HUD says we can't, so we have to follow regulations," explained Diane Tsounis, housing program manager at Milwaukee County DHHS.

The new program instead uses Milwaukee County tax levy funds, allowing them to address inner city needs.

"This was our opportunity to fill the gap for the folks that live outside the jurisdictions that we normally work in," Tsounis said.

The program has two branches: one through DHHS Housing Services with interest-free loans, and one through Revitalize MKE using grants.

Applicants will be referred to one based on their unique situation.

"If it's a small repair, it might be better for Revitalize. If it's a larger one, it might be better for our Milwaukee County program," Mathy said.

Revitalize MKE will focus on fall prevention and accessibility, while Housing Services will address major additions.

Homeowners will be guided through the process.

"It's not just the money part. It's really working hand-in-hand with seniors to make sure they're comfortable with the contractors they use, and the scope of work meets all their needs," Mathy explained.

The goal is to remove financial and physical barriers that affect local seniors' quality of life.

"It gets people to stay in their homes longer," Tsounis said.

Any senior on a fixed income in Milwaukee who is in need of home repairs could qualify.

A workshop for those interested will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Wilson Park Senior Center from 9 a.m.-11 p.m.

Click here to contact the ADRC for more information.

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