Many low-income homeowners, particularly those who are elderly, struggle to maintain their homes. Due to economic pressures, they often have to forego repairs, leave smoke detectors unattended, and face increasing risk of a devastating fall in the absence of safety rails. RTO|EB's Safe at Home project puts volunteers to work to assess and correct problem areas, making homes safer and keeping neighborhoods stable by allowing low-income residents to remain in their homes.
RTO|EB has worked since 1993 to rejuvenate diverse neighborhoods by rehabilitating homes and nonprofit facilities in low-income communities throughout the Oakland/East Bay (California) area. With just four full-time staff members (and relationships with dozens of community partners), we have mobilized and trained more than 15,000 volunteers to improve safety in more than 3,000 homes and community sites. Our Safe at Home project, begun in 2006, has made living spaces safer for hundreds of low-income homeowners (largely seniors). We use experts to guide all work; our Project Lead is a certified home inspector with many years of experience in home rehabilitation, and licensed home repair specialists lead our teams of community volunteers. This project complements our other building programs, which together support our mission of repairing homes, revitalizing communities, and rebuilding lives.
RTO|EB plans to complete 60-80 Safe at Home projects in the next year to reduce the risk of serious injury among low-income senior homeowners. For each home, staff and volunteer teams will: 1) conduct a comprehensive inspection to determine home safety needs; 2) repair fall hazards (e.g., stairs, rugs) and install equipment such as railings, grab-bars, shower seats, handheld showerheads, toilet risers, non-skid mats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and night lights; and 3) educate homeowners about home safety and the proper use and maintenance of their new equipment.
We survey homeowners on completion of each Safe at Home project to assess whether the work met their needs and expectations, whether they would recommend our services to others, and whether those who worked in their home were knowledgeable and respectful. Staff and project volunteers also evaluate projects for lessons learned to allow continuous improvement. In addition, because our work has an education component, evaluation includes ensuring that each resident understands how to take full advantage of the improvements to their home to ensure their ongoing safety. Finally, we evaluate whether homes have more severe maintenance issues (e.g., wiring, heating, water or sewage systems) that go beyond this project's scope. We then either address those issues through one of our other home rehabilitation programs or waitlist them for future services.
As a community revitalization organization that builds self-sufficiency among low-income seniors in our community, Rebuilding Together Oakland | East Bay (RTO|EB) believes the greatest impact is what ...read more
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