Home Sweet Home
Housing Bureau for Seniors: empowering older adults to live well
Carol Frye, 63, has health issues but wants to live independently. A housemate was the perfect solution, but how could she find a trustworthy person for companionship and help around the house?
Then Frye’s social worker told her about HomeShare, a housemate matching service offered at no cost to the public through the U-M Health System’s Housing Bureau for Seniors. Frye found her roommate Laurie, 48.
“Laurie and I get along so well,” says Frye. “In fact, she’s almost like my sister.”
The key, says Ryan Cowmeadow, M.S.W., HomeShare program coordinator, is drawing out areas of compatibility such as location, price and occupation.
HomeShare is just one part of the Housing Bureau for Seniors, which provides assistance to residents throughout Washtenaw County. With a team of seven and many interns and volunteers, HBS helps more than 1,000 seniors each year. Additionally, well over 300 people attend its educational programs and workshops in the community on topics such as handling finances, tax preparation and caring for older relatives.
Other HBS programs include:
Elderly Eviction Prevention
Led by Harriet Bakalar, M.S.W., this program serves vulnerable clients at risk of losing their homes due to many issues, including memory problems, physical conditions or mental health issues. The program works directly with landlords to resolve issues and helps clients identify community support services and other resources. Bakalar has helped many clients with hoarding, a disorder characterized by the excessive collection of possessions that may result in unsafe living conditions and eviction risks.
Working with seniors and non-seniors, Foreclosure Prevention advocates for clients at risk of losing their homes to property tax or mortgage foreclosure. In some instances, loan payments are modified, loan terms are adjusted or other options are identified to help people keep their homes. Around one-third of foreclosures in the area involve homeowners 55 years or older. The Foreclosure Prevention program offers small loans, education and outreach, and tax preparation assistance.
Justine Bykowski, Housing Counseling program coordinator, says Housing Counseling aims to provide successful long-term care planning with an emphasis on personal finances. It also helps clients find companion care for housekeeping, meal preparation and other basic needs.
What They're Saying:
WASHTENAW COUNTY LANDLORD — “I didn’t want to evict one of my elderly residents who faced problems with clutter and apartment upkeep. The elderly Eviction Prevention program connected her with community resources to solve her problems. What a great community service!”
FORECLOSURE PREVENTION CLIENT — “ When I fell way behind on my property tax payments, HBC counselors worked with me for months to help me save my home.”
HOUSING COUNSELING CLIENT — “I knew nothing about the Housing Bureau for Seniors until my mother needed help and I had no idea what to do. The housing counselor helped so much. And, now my mom is happy and safe.”
HOMESHARE PROVIDER — “I wanted someone to be here in the evenings and on weekends when I didn’t have anyone. Plus, I needed help around the house. The Housing Bureau for Seniors will work hard to find you the right housemate.”
Inside View Editorial Advisory Group
Erin Block, UMHS Marketing Communications
Constance Bridges, Office of the Dean, Medical School
Paula Greeno, Office of the EVPMA
Judy Hallberg, S.P.H.R., UMMS Human Resources
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Eric Kratochwill, UMHHC Office of the CEO
Rick Krupinski, Editor, Medicine at Michigan
Alisa Morningstar, UMHS, MFit Health Promotion
Sara Nielsen, Safety Management Services
Tammy Nipper, UMMS Human Resources
Juanita Parry, Nurse Recruitment & Retention
Steve Raymond, UMHHC Leadership & Staff Development
Karen Schlueter, Livonia Health Center
Carole Strong, House Officers Association
Michael Harrison, chief public relations and marketing officer, UMHS
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