Home Safety and Accessibility Programs

Overview and Description

Home safety and accessibility modifications ensure homes (both rental and homeownership) are safe and functional for people of all ages and abilities. Safety modifications include installation of grab bars in a shower, adding rails along staircases, construction of ramps, changing water faucet handles from knobs to levers, widening doorways, free installation of smoke detectors, etc. Assistance for these modifications can take the form of grants, loans, or free or subsidized labor to undertake the modifications.

Role for Local Government: Local governments can directly implement these programs or fund a non-profit to implement. Jurisdictions can leverage federal (CDBG/HOME), state, and locally generated revenue to fund these types of programs. To ensure homes that have received modifications remain affordable for future occupants, program requirements can include resale restrictions on future buyers’ incomes in exchange for subsidy for the modifications.

Program Lead: Local Government or Non-Profit

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing offers a Home Modification Benefit that is a service provided by Health First Colorado. Modifications to housing can be made to assist Colorado residents with their accessibility needs. The Department offers waivers for this benefit to households who are eligible.

The City of Arvada is in partnership with Brothers Redevelopment to provide two programs that address safety and accessibility repairs. Safe and Accessible Arvada is an example of a program that receives local government support and highlights the benefits of a partnership between a government and a nonprofit.

For more information on Brothers Redevelopment and their partnerships with local Colorado governments, visit their website here.

Lead Abatement

Overview and Description

Lead abatement programs aim to protect renters and homeowners, particularly those with children, from lead hazards in contaminated paint and drinking water that can result in significant health risks. Abatement initiatives may include education, free lead testing and remediation activities, financial assistance for lead abatement, and broad education about lead hazards.

Program Lead: Local Government or Non-Profit

Role for Local Government: Local governments can implement these programs or fund non-profits to do so. They can also publicize information about the programs and lead hazards in general. These initiatives may also be paired with a local lead ordinance, which can require testing/inspections of lead in homes, water, and/or soil and remediation or removal if unsafe lead exposure is found.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The Pueblo County Department of Public Health and Environment educate residents on the dangers of lead poisoning and offer Blood Lead and Paint Tests for residents concerned about contamination.

The Denver Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program educates Denver residents on the dangers of lead poisoning and will conduct and investigation on sources of contamination for children who test position for lead in blood tests.

Fresno County has a Lead Hazard Control Program that offers “home visitation, environmental home inspections and health education to families of severely lead-poisoned children.” Eligible households may qualify for grants to fix lead hazards.

Disaster Resilience and Weatherization Programs

Overview and Description

Disaster resilience and weatherization programs are preemptive measures to protect communities and properties against climate/weather-related damage. Local governments can receive federal assistance after a disaster occurs, but through the implementation of resilience programs, local governments have the ability to take preventative action to reduce the harm caused by natural disasters. Resilience programs can include identifying specific locations that are especially susceptible to a natural disaster and taking inventory of this housing, create and/or fund rehabilitation programs to address climate-specific modifications, and education programs on natural disasters and the housing and safety effects they can have on a community. Weatherization programs provide assistance for modifications to households that are not equipped to withstand extreme temperatures and weather. These programs can reduce utility bills and create energy-conserving homes.

Program Lead: Local government or nonprofit

Role for Local Government: Local governments can implement programs to provide assistance and education or financially support nonprofit and community organizations who also do this work.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

The City of Englewood has four key projects in place to begin addressing community resilience and disaster relief programs. Three of the projects are directly related to weatherization and disaster resilience. By assessing vulnerability and risk of different areas in Englewood, the city is prepared to implement climate change mitigation practices and identify which disasters are mostly likely to occur through the use of GIS mapping.

In 2016, Larimer County developed a Resiliency Framework that addresses a multitude of different areas, one of them being resilient housing. Notably, the strategies include developing a housing plan that encourages housing development outside of high-risk areas and educating homeowners and property owners on preventative actions.

Arapahoe County and Adams County offer a Weatherization Assistance Program that is free to low-income and eligible households. This Weatherization Program addresses insufficient energy practices and rectifies them with energy-conserving updates.