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Spotlight on Innovation: Lifelong Housing Project

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on the Senior and Disability Services of Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG), winner in the Community Planning & Livable Communities category.

During n4a's 2018 Annual Conference and Tradeshow, the top four highest-scoring Innovations winners won cash awards thanks to the generous support of AIA sponsor 
WellCare Health Plans. As the third-place winner, the Lifelong Housing Project received a check for $1,000 from n4a.

The Lifelong Housing Project grew out of the work of the RVCOG's Lifelong Housing Committee, which recofnized that there was no standardized way for a person to find an accessible home in their community using the Multiple Listing Service, a suite of services used by real estate brokers. The RVCOG Disability Services Advisory Council also identified a shortage of affordable accessible housing as a top priority for meeting the needs of older adults and people with disabilities in their community. With funding from AARP Oregon, RVCOG worked over the next four years to develop the components of the Lifelong Housing Project and certified its first four homes in 2014.

The Lifelong Housing Project makes it possible for older adults in southern Oregon to live in their own homes and communities for the rest of their lives by increasing the supply of and demand for housing that meets residents' needs. The project offers a Lifelong Housing checklist of features for remodeled and new homes, provides targeted education to homeowners and professionals and offers a certification program to help identify accessible homes when they are being sold.

The project significantly benefits all stakeholders in the real estate market. In addition to safety and convenience benefits for consumers, the project provides builders and realtors with the proper tools, education and certification to effectively position themselves in a growing accessible housing market.

The project has seen significant success since its launch; AARP regularly features the program in its national Livable Communities publications, most recently inviting staff to present with partners at the AARP Livable Communities Conference in North Carolina this November. The Real Estate Standards Organization has also adopted Lifelong Housing Project descriptions of accessible features into its Data Directory.

Replicability is a key component of the Lifelong Housing Project. RVCOG has developed a community toolkit to help other community-based organizations implement similar programs, as well as a toolkit for professional inspectors who want to add the certification to their business offerings. Moving forward, RVCOG is looking for opportunities to expand the program model while developing and marketing new products to guide other communities and to help ensure the program's financial sustainability.

To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!

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