State Funding Awards for Housing, Transportation and Community Services Include Strong Support for Older Adults

In the past week, the state has announced the latest grant awards for MassDOT’s Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program, Affordable Housing Development, and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – all of which include multiple projects that support older adults.

All of the following award announcements are great examples for age- and dementia friendly communities looking to address housing, transportation and community services.

MassDOT’s program, which the Mass. Healthy Aging Collaborative has been supporting and promoting with guides and resources, offers bonus points for projects that are inclusive of older adults. In the most recent funding awards, Amherst received $192,600.40 to construct a new pedestrian ramp and walkway system – including a new crosswalk and wayfinding – in order to improve connectivity among the Amherst Senior Center, Musante Community Health Center, and downtown shops and services, while also providing a new link to a network of walking routes used by seniors for exercise.

Shrewsbury, meanwhile, received $45,000 to support the Shrewsbury Senior Center to provide residents with salt, buckets, and basic snow removal equipment – as well as new benches – to encourage safe winter walking.

As part of the CDBG program announcement, eight out of the 41 awarded projects include some degree of support for elder services, senior center design and construction, housing and transportation support.

For example, with the help of CDBG funding to Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Peru, Plainfield, Williamsburg, and Worthington, the Hilltown Elder Network (HEN) will serve roughly 100 unduplicated seniors in 2021 across seven funded towns plus three other towns not in the CDBG grant.  Seniors are matched with a local caregiver who does an assessment and delivers in-home services including: light duty chores, cleaning, laundry, snow removal, firewood stacking and escorted transportation for medical and grocery needs. Referrals for more intensive care are made as needed.

The hilltowns are also getting support for the design phase of a local senior center building and for a housing rehab program targeted for 15-18 homes in 2021-2022.  Many will be for homeowners over 60 years old, according to funding recipients.

Finally, the Executive Office of Housing an Economic Development (EOHED) announced awards supporting 12 projects in 8 communities will bring 572 new housing units to Massachusetts, including 507 affordable units, with 108 reserved for extremely low-income households.  Two communities – Boston and the town of Acton – have new construction projects supported by this funding that will focus on older residents.