ECHO Program allows affordable housing for older residents

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Organizations in Lackawanna County are teaming up to provide affordable housing for older residents.

The Lackawanna Area Agency on Aging has teamed up with NeighborWorks, Johnson College, Simplex Homes, as well as a few other nonprofits to bring an exciting new program to the county. The ECHO Program, or Elderly Cottage Housing Opportunity, will place a tiny home in a family members backyard for their elderly relative to live in.

This will allow them to live close to family while maintaining their independence and still receive the proper care from their loved ones.

Interested applicants can apply starting November 5th. The Elderly resident will have to pay rent, which will be 30 percent of their monthly adjusted income, which Eyewitness News is told is comparable, if not cheaper, than living in a high rise or nursing home. 

The Area Agency on Aging will supply care givers to the family to ease the transition of their loved one from their current home to the Elder Cottage. When the resident can no longer use the home or it is no longer needed, NeighborWorks will come in and remove the home and deliver it to the next person in line. 

Two homes will be ready for this year and an additional one will be added sometime next year. These new homes will be the 10th and 11th elder cottages to be implemented in the commonwealth.

“This isn’t just a unit that someone gets to live in. This is an opportunity to fight isolation. This is an opportunity to deal with the issues we face in the caregiver’s space where there is a shortage in the labor force. This is an opportunity for someone to grow with their family, be taken care of, have meals and laundry done for them everyday, that would normally had to be a purchased service if they lived in a high rise or a place of their own,” said Jason Kavulich, director of Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging.

Johnson College Students will be designing and building these homes from the ground up, including carpentry, electrical, and H-VAC work.

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