Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio recently announced their sponsorship of the Residential Repair Program, a program that helps the elderly in the community with minor home repairs and maintenance.
The Town of Smithtown already has a program in place to assist seniors but beginning next year the town will receive a grant from the county to subsidize the program, which is available to all senior citizens age 60 and older.
"Having had only town money, we are fortunate to receive a grant from the county," said Laura Greis, director of the Smithtown Senior Citizens Center.
The Residential Repair Program will be funded by the county and run by the town. Individuals receiving assistance are not charged for the service or labor, just for the cost of the materials. The county is funding this in part through the federal Older Americans Act and New York State funds being passed to the ten towns that run the program. The county also provides a local match with some of the towns to further bolster the program financially.
"The Residential Repair Program benefits all parties," Supervisor Vecchio said. "It allows Smithtown and Suffolk County to cooperatively assist senior citizens in the upkeep of their homes at not cost to the citizen themselves."
The program has been seeing an increase in use over the past few years with many seniors feeling the pinch of the troubling economy. The program provides assistance for common repairs and maintenance such as leaky faucets, clogged gutters and raking leaves.
This helping hand also means that many seniors the ability to stay in their homes rather than moving to assisted living facilities. They are not only saving money, but their dignity as well, according Pegi Rosino, executive director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Smithtown.
"It is such a blessing for seniors that want to stay in their home and remain independent," Rosino said.
In 2009, approximately 2,791 elderly individuals across the county took part in the Residential Repair Program. 2010 numbers will likely increase, since 1,453 seniors have taken advantage of the program in the first half of the year alone.
The service has also been popular in Smithtown. According to the Smithtown Senior Citizen Center, more than 300 repairs took place last year.
"We get a lot of calls weekly asking if we have a program such as this," Rosino said. She think the program will be well-utilized.