Resources Abound for Seniors Who Need Help with Home Maintenance

Peg, 92, of San Bruno, can’t move heavy furniture or change the batteries in her smoke alarm. Edith, 87, of Redwood City, needs help cleaning windows and sweeping the yard.
Both are arthritic, and they maneuver steps with difficulty and watch for loose floorboards. They want to stay in their homes, but they need help maintaining them.

That’s why these county residents, who preferred that their full names not be used, look forward to the first week of May, when a team of volunteers from the San Mateo County Association of Realtors’ “Service Volunteer Program” will visit their homes and do some work. The deadline to apply is March 6.

“It’s a wonderful program,” said Edith, who has been a participant for two years. “The volunteers do small things I can’t do, little things old people can’t do anymore.”

Operating in the county since 2001, the program sends realtors and others in the field to seniors and the homebound for cleaning and light maintenance free of charge. The program is available to any County homeowner or renter who is disabled or aged 55 or older.

Around 150 to 200 volunteers, working in teams, usually participate. They review applications, visit homes to get a look at what’s needed, then return at an appointed time.

“Each team spends about an hour or more with each family,” said Beckie Patane, the association’s event coordinator. And that’s important too.

“I enjoy the visits,” said Peg. “The volunteers are delightful. They sit and talk. When you get older, you need all this fun stuff.”

“They’re vivacious young people,” said Edith. “I look forward to their visits.”

Patane described the volunteers’ efforts as “light chores.” No repairs are done that require a license, but volunteers change furnace filters, flip mattresses, clear yards and plant flowers, among other endless tasks that home maintenance requires.

The program runs May 4 to 8. For an application, call 650-696-8220 or visit your local senior center.

Here are some other free or low-cost resources for home repair or maintenance:

  • Senior Coastsiders, Half Moon Bay. Provides free minor home repair to low-income seniors who are Coastside residents, with most work done one day in June. Deadline for application is March 14. Call 650-726- 9056.
  • City of Daly City Rehabitation Program. Provides grants up to $1,000 for low-income senior homeowners for minor home repair, and low-interest loans for larger jobs up to $75,000. Call 650-991-8068.
  • North Peninsula Neighborhood Services Center, South San Francisco. Provides free, year-round minor home repair by licensed agency employees for low-income homeowners. Countywide, except for San Mateo and Redwood City. Homeowners who don’t meet low-income requirements are referred to licensed handymen. Call 650-583-3373.

“Resources Abound for Seniors Who Need Help with Home Maintenance” by Joan Aragone was originally published on for the Contra Costa Times

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