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Home Ownership Opportunity for Aging In Place

Carol and Elsa Fisher, Swannanoa, NC

What does “aging in place” mean to you? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level." AARP supports aging in place as one of eight domains that make a community age-friendly.

In 2015, when Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity helped Carol and his wife Elsa Fisher buy their Swannanoa home, it gave the couple an incredible sense of security. For one thing, they no longer had to stay in a motel to avoid neighborhood violence. For another, they could now safely age in place, even as Carol’s dementia worsened, because their home offered the stability they needed as Elsa began taking care of him full-time. The single-floor living area, as well as rooms and a back porch offering peace and quiet, became critical for Carol’s care. Elsa is so grateful for the strong foundation an affordable home has given her. It means she can care for her husband while still finding time to bake brownies for kids in the neighborhood!

About Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity
Founded in 1983, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity was the first Habitat affiliate in North Carolina. Today, it is an even bigger force for good in the Asheville area, and many more families like Carol and Elsa’s are now homeowners. Currently, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is offering an Aging in Place homeownership opportunity for qualified adults age 55 or older.

New Heights, Habitat's new neighborhood in West Asheville is just six miles from downtown. This neighborhood will be a mix of single-family homes, duplex-style townhomes, as well as Aging in Place units specifically designed for applicants who are 55+. These single-level townhomes feature universal design elements such as at-grade entrances, wide doorframes, and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Sponsorship from Deerfield, a local retirement community, helped make this housing type available.

Information about these Aging in Place units can be found on Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s website:
Also available through that same link is an information session, which answers frequently asked questions asked about the homeownership program. You can also download an application from the website. Completed applications can be mailed, faxed, or dropped off at Habitat’s office at 33 Meadow Road in Asheville, which has a lock box where application materials can be left securely, along with the appropriate income documentation. 

The plans for these housing units have grown out of an Age-Friendly Buncombe County Initiative that recognizes the scarcity of safe and affordable housing for seniors. In 2017, as part of their application to AARP's Network of Age-Friendly Communities, Buncombe County cited a survey of over 1,000 community members which indicated affordable accessible housing as the greatest impediment to the community being friendly for all ages.

Is your house a place that is perfect for you as you get older? Take a look inside a "Lifelong Home."

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