Senior citizens in River Forest will soon be able to receive low-cost handyperson services under a program approved by village officials at their virtual Jan. 11 village board meeting.

The five village trustees attending the meeting approved a recommendation from the village’s Age-Friendly Committee to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the village of Oak Park and Oak Park and River Forest townships for a home repair program partnership. Trustee Tom Cargie did not attend.

Village officials said the townships have already agreed to participate in the program, with Oak Park expected to approve a recommendation from that village’s Aging-in-Place Commission and join as well.

The program would be administered by the nonprofit North West Housing Partnership (NWHP), which operates a similar program in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Des Plaines and communities in Palatine and Wheeling townships.

Trustee Respicio Vazquez, who chairs the Age-Friendly Committee, explained that the program would subsidize small and minor home repairs for those 60 and older on a sliding scale. Participants would also pay for the cost of materials.

“It’s a nice program to benefit our seniors,” he said.

The total cost would be $7,000 per year, which helps offset fees paid to the workers and for NWHP to administer the program, including screening workers and seniors for eligibility and scheduling home repair appointments. With the four agencies splitting the total cost equally, River Forest’s cost would be $1,750 per year. The village’s only other responsibility would be to promote the program, according to Vazquez. 

He also hopes the participating workers would receive dementia-friendly training similar to the training provided by the Age-Friendly Committee to the village’s police and fire departments and some businesses. He suggested that officials try to work together with officials in Proviso Township, which operates a similar program.

Under the sliding scale, those with an annual income of $45,000 or more would pay $40 per hour; over $33,000 would pay $30 per hour; and $18,000 or more, $20 per hour. Those with an annual income of less than $18,000 per year would not be charged.

The program would not include emergency repairs or work that would require a building permit. Workers would be local, when possible, and insured.

The mission of NWHP is to promote “public and private partnerships that create and preserve cost-effective, quality, diverse housing for low- to moderate-income residents and workers through housing development and renovation, education and advocacy.”

When the program would start is still to be decided.

Village President Cathy Adduci supported the effort, calling it “a great program for our seniors and our village.”

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