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Laguna Beach


Kempf recommends proposal for city to help fund repairs on seniors’ homes

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Low-income seniors who want to stay in their homes but can’t afford needed repairs may get financial assistance if the City Council approves at tonight’s meeting a program recommended by Councilwoman Sue Kempf. 

The City Council will review at tonight’s meeting a proposal by Kempf to appropriate $100,000 from the Housing in Lieu Fund to provide financial assistance to income-qualifying, over 60 seniors to make critical home repairs, including those related to health and safety issues. Kempf is recommending that the city join with the Lifelong Laguna Home Modification Assessment Program offered by Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. and Habitat for Humanity to create, administer, and fund a home repair program for seniors who meet income requirements.

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow has often rephrased Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that a nation is judged by how it cares for its elderly and its young.     

The proposed city-funded Senior Home Repair Program could include health, safety, and accessibility improvements that would allow Laguna’s elders to “age in place” – in other words, not be forced to leave their homes due to the inability to make needed repairs or changes. 

Eligible improvements could include repairs of structural components; plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems; doors and door locks; accessible pathways; mold remediation; weatherization; and other improvements that meet the intent of the program. 

Details of the program still need to be developed, but Kempf provided an example: Laguna Beach Seniors would accept and review applications. Approval would be subject to eligibility requirements. Assessments would be forwarded to Habitat for Humanity to process. 

The next step in the example is a visit by a construction manager who would conduct a building inspection based on the assessment, followed by submission of a preliminary work order to the Seniors’ organization for review and approval. If approved, a contract would be finalized between the Seniors and Habitat for Humanity. 

Both organizations have notified the city by letters of their desire to form a collaboration to provide critical home repairs for Laguna’s low-income seniors. 

The letters included a paragraph outlining their proposed contributions. The Seniors would identify elderly property owners who need home repairs – from leaky roofs to access ramps and grab bars to prevent accidents. Habitat OC would bring construction and repair experience to ensure the homes would be safe and secure. 

City funding would make it all possible, according to Seniors Executive Director Nadia Babayi and Habitat Senior Vice President Chris Baiocchi. 

Funds would be issued to Habitat OC for the preparation of building plans, obtaining building permits, and construction.

Kempf is recommending the council direct the Senior Housing Task Force to work with the Seniors on program guidelines and appropriate $100,000 from the Housing in Lieu Fund for the program.

 

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