Do you have an elderly neighbor or relative living in a home that is obviously in need of repair? Have you noticed that their roof is leaking or the railings on their front porch are broken? Are they on a fixed income? If so, they could need your help to avoid scam artists that prey on seniors and to also help them get the repairs done on their houses.
Start a Dialogue
There are a number of programs available to senior citizens on limited incomes that can help them get some or all of the aid they need to make necessary repairs, such as for a leaking roof, to their homes. Sadly, many senior citizens are not aware of these grants and programs. If you believe that the elderly person is in need of financial help in order to make repairs to their property, you should start a dialogue with them to, hopefully, learn what exactly their needs are and to inform them of the aid that is available. Some of the grants available include:
- Federal home repair programs. The government offers assistance through its Very Low-Income Housing Repair Program.
- State and county aging service programs. For example, in Washington County, Oregon, a senior citizen that lives in the county and has limited income may quality for up to $4,500 in grants to fix a roof through a program called HARDE.
Educate the Senior
Unfortunately, there are scam artists out there that prey specifically on elderly people with homes in need of repair. For example, if these criminals notice that the senior citizen's home is in dire need of a new roof, they will offer to fix it for a very low cost. The con artist will then ask for money upfront to buy supplies and then either fail to make the repairs and never return, or make a few minor repairs and then demand more money than their original estimate. Some con artists will offer free estimates and then climb on the senior citizen's roof and damage it. That is why it is important that you warn the senior citizen to:
- Avoid using any contractor that shows up on their doorstep unannounced. Legitimate contractors will rarely approach a homeowner to do work on the spot.
- Use only legitimate contractors. This is especially important when it comes to roofing contractors since it is so hard for a homeowner to check whether the work they do has been completed correctly. In addition, they should not allow a "contractor" they have not called to their property to climb on their roof in order to give them a free estimate.
- Avoid making hasty decisions. Scam artists will often pressure senior citizens into making a decision by claiming their deal is only good if they sign immediately. If the senior citizen feels pressured, they should tell the contractor that they want to discuss it with you or with a lawyer before they commit.
- Ask for proof of insurance and to see the contractor's business licenses. Most scam artists will have neither.
- Refuse to pay the entire amount of the repairs upfront, especially if a contractor demands cash or a money transfer.
Instead, look for legitimate companies, seen at sites like http://www.palmerroofing.net.
Try a Crowdsourcing Campaign
If the senior can't afford to make necessary repairs on their house, but they don't qualify for state or federal programs, consider starting a crowdsourcing fundraising campaign. These types of campaigns can be an excellent way to raise the money for a person in need. Before you do this, however, make sure that the senior citizen is okay with this type of fundraising.
It is a sad and unfortunate situation that many seniors on limited incomes simply can't afford to pay for expensive repairs on their homes. But with a little assistance from you, they may finally be able to get those much-needed repairs completed.