New Prevention Program Supports Seniors and People with Disabilities

The Alameda Fire Department, working with the Housing Authority, Mastick Senior Center, Boy Scouts, Kiwanis Club, and Alameda Hospital has developed a new program that combines support for seniors and people with disabilities. The Housing Safety and Accessibility Program blends the City’s existing Accessibility Modification Program with key elements of the former Senior Safety Program. This new program assists low-income seniors and people with disabilities with making minor fire and safety modifications to their homes, as well as accessibility repairs to help individuals attain greater mobility within their homes. Modifications range from wheelchair ramps, doorway widening, walkway construction, bathroom grab-bars, strobe indicators, and so on. In addition, the Boy Scouts will make adult-accompanied visits to the homes of those seniors who have already had smoke detectors installed in order to replace batteries in the detectors. Alameda Hospital and Kiwanis Club partners will help with program outreach.

“This program plays a vital role in creating a safer environment for our seniors and residents with disabilities and also reduces the emergency calls to which the fire department responds,” said Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi.

The Housing Safety and Accessibility Program is open to residents age 62 or older or persons with disabilities, with an annual household income of less than 80% of the median. Prospective applicants must call (510) 337-2133 to confirm eligibility and request an application. Once the application is approved, an evaluation will be scheduled in order to assess the required work.

The Housing Authority is investing $49,895 in CDBG funds, which will be leveraged with $5,000 in Home Depot grant funds. Together, this funding will cover the salary of a part-time Housing Safety and Accessibility Assistant in the Fire Department, as well as the installation of fire and fall safety devices and small grants for minor accessibility modifications. The Housing Safety and Accessibility Program is currently funded on a yearly basis.

The former Senior Safety Program, a community outreach hazard mitigation program for low-income senior citizens, established in 2010, lost a majority of it funding at the end of FY 10-11. During the 18 months that the program was in place, it provided home visits for more than 350 seniors. During these home visits, safety plans to lessen safety and fire hazards were implemented, and smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, night lights, and other safety devices were installed. This Housing Safety and Accessibility Program is the result of six months of collaboration and is intended to enhance the services provided by the former Senior Safety Program.