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Housing modification program expanded to help more seniors in County

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — A grant-funded home modification program run by the Fort Fairfield Housing Authority is expanding its reach this year to most of Aroostook County and aiming to help more seniors stay in their homes.

Funded with $50,000 last year from the Maine State Housing Authority, the Fort Fairfield Housing Authority launched an aging-in-place home modification program, where FFHA staff help elderly homeowners with safety-related repairs or modifications.

The program is unique in deploying the resources of a local housing authority to help private homeowners, and it extends beyond the town of Fort Fairfield. Under last year’s grant, the FFHA was able to help any senior living in a 25 mile radius of Fort Fairfield.

The program has since been extended another year, with the budget raised to $75,000, and expanded, said Victoria Bradstreet, project leader at the FFHA.

Now, the program will be available to homeowners within a 60 mile radius of Fort Fairfield, from Houlton to Fort Kent, Bradstreet said. “This is a chance for us to make safety modifications to make sure they can stay in their homes longer.”

To be eligible, individuals must be 60 years old or older, or have a disability, and own their own homes or live in a house owned by their family. FFHA staff will inspect and make suggestions on how to make their dwelling safer and more accessible. The staff can then install safety features or make modifications worth up to $1,500.

The program served 39 homes in 2017 and brought a range of improvements to those homes said Wayne Troicke, executive director of the FFHA.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were some of the most common additions made under the program, along with grab bars in bathrooms and improvements to stairs and steps, Troicke said.

“As long as it has a safety and accessibility connection we can do the repair for up to $1,500 per household,” Troicke said.

People interested in applying to use the program can contact the Fort Fairfield Housing Authority at 207-476-5771 or ffhousing@maine.rr.com.

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