The Age Friendly Housing program aims to provide safe living conditions for the low-income elderly urban community in Guangdong so they can be comfortable in their later years of life. Habitat renovates homes for low-income seniors with a focus on improving safety conditions by installing grab bars, anti-slip flooring and ensuring barrier-free access in addition to any other urgently needed repairs.
Guangdong has become an aging province in China. There are more than 1.2 million people living in Guangzhou who are above the age of 60, of which more than 520,000 live alone. As a result, the need for service for the elderly is expanding rapidly, however due to low-oncome and strong community-bonds, most elderly residents choose to stay at home after retirement. With the decline or loss of physical as well as mental functions, elderly residents living alone face many difficulties – especially safety risks posed by inadequate home design and lack of aged facilities.
Most houses of elderly residents were constructed decades ago. As a result, electrical facilities are often dangerous and the roof or walls are leaking. Houses were not designed to meet the special needs of the elderly. However, many cannot afford the cost of renovation to improve the safety and condition of their home. Habitat China works together with social service organizations to promote the improvement of living environment for the elderly, and to raise awareness on the elderly people’s living condition.
Renovations address the most pressing safety issues, e.g. reducing fire and other risk hazards and installing barrier free facilities. Habitat China will seek relevant materials and service donations, and will organize volunteers to participate in the renovation where appropriate. The engagement of volunteers will not only help lower down the labour cost, but also will maximize the social participation and raise awareness of the housing issues elderly people face.
A team of volunteers may raise RMB 27,000 to cover the renovation cost of 1 home, including the in-country costs (local transportation, lunch, first-aid, tools, safety equipment and insurance). Each home can host approximately 8 volunteers in meaningful renovation work, depending on the size of the house.