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Bloomfield Township

December 4, 2013

Township program aims to help low-income seniors

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP —  For low-income seniors in need of minor home repairs that address safety concerns, energy-efficiency or code violations, help could be just a phone call away.

Following the Board of Trustees’ approval of $46,348 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds for the 2014 project year, Bloomfield Township Senior Services is encouraging people older than 60 to apply for the Minor Home Repair program for assistance with any number of items, from appliance replacement to tree removal.

BTSS Director Christine Tvaroha said there have been a number of outreach efforts to secure more applicants for the Minor Home Repair program.

“We have raised the income levels to highest allowable by the county so that we could serve more households, and we have also been pursuing referrals from the Assessing Department and the treasurer,” she said.

“Building and code officials are familiar with our program, and they make referrals when they note properties in need of assistance.”

In order to be eligible for the Minor Home Repair program, the homeowner must be older than 60 and have an income of no more than $34,950 for a one-person household or $39,950 for a two-person household.

Eligible projects include:
• Repairs to furnaces, roofs, siding, chimneys, porches and stairs, and electrical and plumbing water/waste repairs.
• Replacing water heaters, disposals, toilets, faucets, light fixtures, entrance doors, locks, handrails, sidewalks, driveways, gutters, weather stripping and garage doors.
• Removing architectural barriers, large items or debris, and dangerous trees or tree limbs.
• Correcting single code violations.

There is a $5,00 annual household maximum and a $15,00 lifetime household maximum. Since 2009, 38 home repair projects have been completed, and Tvaroha said the average age of participating homeowners is 79 years, while the average age of the homes is 54 years. The average annual income of participants is $22,400.

The application requires proof of income, residency and home ownership; current property taxes; bank statements; Michigan Homestead property credit claims; current proof of homeowner’s insurance; and the names of all people living at the residence.

“There is a detailed process for the application, but we’re very glad to help people with that,” Tvaroha said.

As part of the 2014 CDBG funds, BTSS was allocated $19,800 for its Meals on Wheels program, which, with the help of 100 volunteer drivers, delivered 8,300 meals to township seniors last year. The majority of those seniors were older than 85.

To qualify for Meals on Wheels assistance, seniors must be older than 62 and be unable to leave their homes on their own or without great assistance. They must be present between 10 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday for delivery, and participate in an in-home assessment.

“Meals on Wheels is also part of our safety net and emergency contact protocol. If someone doesn’t answer the door and we’re expecting to deliver to them, we call their family or their neighbor and start that process,” she said.

“We’ve actually been able to help some people that needed assistance.”

The board unanimously approved the $66,212 in total CDBG funds at its Nov. 25 regular meeting.

Supervisor Leo Savoie said Meals on Wheels delivers about 50 meals per day — 250 per week.

“It’s a great program you run,” he said.

For more information on the Minor Home Repair program or Meals on Wheels, call Bloomfield Township Senior Services at (248) 723-3500.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.