In a recent column I “complained” that there were not enough services available for Portage County seniors. I have to eat my words now because there is financial assistance available to individuals 60 years or older with a yearly income of about $42,000.
The Portage County Job and Family Services has recently distributed a news release to The Portager announcing that funds are now available for Portage County senior citizens through an Ohio Healthy Aging Grant Program they are coordinating.
What makes this Grant Program so significant is that it is not just available for low-income individuals and it can cover a variety of needs — not just food, medical care, or housing.
The Healthy Aging Grant Program of Ohio aims “to address social determinants of health and foster an improved quality of life for older Ohioans, enabling them to remain in their home and stay connected to their communities, preserve their personal assets, and promote a healthy, independent, active lifestyle.”
This means that if you have a retirement income of $43,000 and you live in a home you purchased when you were working, you can remain in your home because this Healthy Aging program could help you pay your property taxes, your utility bills, or even help with your mortgage payments and home repairs.
In other words, there is now help available to let you “grow old” in your home even if your income is 300% of the national poverty guidelines.
Or if you do want to move into something smaller, you may be eligible for a deposit on an apartment, or help with the rent or utilities.
The grant also has money available for purchase of computer tablets or to bring WiFi into your home.
The grant guidelines can also assist you with other traditional needs such as food vouchers, home-delivered meals, PARTA passes and even gas vouchers.
The list goes on. The money is there to be used by Portage County seniors, but there is a limit as to how large each grant will be, and the money will only be available through June 30 or until the funds run out.
To get an application online, visit www.portagecounty-oh.gov/jfs. Or obtain an application in person at the Portage County Job and Family Services, 449 S. Meridian St., Ravenna (second floor) or by calling 330-389-7512.
What makes this program more exciting is that it acknowledges there are many issues older Americans have, even if they have what seems to be a “reasonable retirement income”… you do not have to be dependent upon welfare benefits to need some extra help.
It is important to individuals to be able to remain in their own homes as they age, when possible, and this grant program seems to make this possible for some of us to do so.
One aspect of our lives this program does not consider is socialization. The closest it comes to addressing this need, is in providing transportation services through PARTA or gas vouchers.
For years, mental health professionals have been acknowledging that being around other individuals, laughing, playing games, and just socializing, is one of the best prescriptions for “what ails you.”
This is why the Streetsboro and Aurora Parks and Recreation department should be commended for providing viable socialization programs for their communities.