Group sets off movement for home modifications

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Friday, July 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – A bill in the House of Representatives that would give seniors a $30,000 tax credit for modifying their homes to help them age in place now has some firepower behind it.

A new group called HomesRenewed has been created, in part, to help raise awareness for the “Senior Accessible Housing Act,” which was introduced in late March by Reps. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine.

“H.R. 1780 is a starting place to make this a national issue,” said Louis Tenenbaum, founder of HomesRenewed and a long-time aging-in-place expert, speaker and advocate.

HomesRenewed organized a face-to-face meeting in Washington, D.C., in June and a conference call last week to start developing a strategy for “driving policy and private investment to house an aging America.”

The first goal of the group is bringing together the various industries that offer aging in place products and services, including HME, building and technology, Tenenbaum says.

“They’re all working very diligently to create this market for their products and services that will help people age in place, but they’re not working together,” he said. “This is the beginning of a more organized movement.”

The second goal of the group is getting seniors behind the movement. No one disputes that the population is becoming increasingly gray and that aging in place is preferred and less costly, but without a financial incentive to modify their homes, it has been difficult to get seniors to act, Tenenbaum says.

“It’s similar to solar energy and hybrid cars—we started doing these things because there was an incentive to do it,” he said.

In this way, advocates for aging in place are also shifting the customer base for aging-in-place products and services from those who don’t have money to those who do, Tenenbaum says.

“You need to spend money to get the credit,” he said. “Then, once the movement has traction and we have larger data sets on how it saves money, more widespread coverage (from the government and other payers) will follow suit.”

Accessible Home Improvement of America, a division of the VGM Group, has joined Tenenbaum on what has been, in many ways, a one-man crusade. AHIA has sponsored HomesRenewed, and Jim Greatorex, vice president, sits on its board of directors. Greatorex said H.R. 1780 “wins” on every level—for the companies offering these products and services, for the consumers wanting to say in their homes, for the hospitals trying to prevent admissions, for the insurers looking to reduce costs.

“It’s a great opportunity where our industry, the HME industry, can be part of the solution,” he said.