Elder-Aid opened not one, but two new homes designed for senior citizens Wednesday in Bryan.

Since forming in 1990, Elder-Aid has built new homes and rehabilitated duplexes in Bryan and College Station to provide safe, affordable housing for low-income seniors in the area.

With two new homes opening on Wednesday, Elder-Aid Director Sandra Hoelscher said, “that just means there are a couple more elderly in this area [who have] a place to live. It’s new, it’s clean, it’s safe. They have the opportunity to rest. This is a safe place to just be home. We’re just so excited to be able to do it.”

Each home has the same layout and is designed to the specifications outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, so the new tenants can move freely whether they use a cane, walker or wheelchair or do not need any mobility assistance.

Hoelscher, members of the Elder-Aid board, Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson and city staff members celebrated the opening of the 26th Elder-Aid home with a small ribbon cutting ceremony.

One of the two homes opened on Wednesday off Texas 21 was funded with a home grant from the City of Bryan, while the second home was funded with extra money Elder-Aid had.

“I’m very pleased to be involved with helping to provide safe and secure housing for elderly members of our community, particularly those with low income who couldn’t normally afford a nice place to live,” Elder-Aid Board President James Thomas said. “We can help provide them safe and secure and happy surroundings.”

Some people move into an Elder-Aid home after leaving the hospital without another home to return to, and others move into their new home from a shelter, he noted.

“To come out and to see their face when they come out of that and find a good home to live in, it really makes it all worthwhile,” he said.

Elder-Aid owns the land and performs maintenance on the home as needed, and the tenant pays a reduced rent through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through the program, HUD pays the majority of the rent and the tenant makes up the difference, but the rent the tenant pays cannot be more than 30% of their income.

When Elder-Aid started building new homes, Thomas said, no one expected they would get to 26, adding he has been a part of 80% of the projects. Since retiring from Texas A&M after 44 years, he is even more involved, saying his wife describes him as a “failure at

retirement.”

Bryan Mayor Andrew Nelson thanked the Elder-Aid representatives at Wednesday’s event for the work they do in the community and repeated a story his priest tells of a man who walks along the beach throwing starfish back into the ocean.

“Some guy says, ‘There’s thousands of starfish; surely you don’t think you’re making a difference.’ And he says, ‘Well, I’m making a difference to this one.’ So, that’s what this house is,” Nelson said. “We don’t have to solve the whole world’s problems with this home, but this home is a shining beacon for this whole community to say, ‘This is a starfish here,’ and you guys have made a huge difference, not just here, but for many years for what you do, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Board Vice President Kirk Brown said they have seen how one new Elder-Aid home can impact the entire neighborhood with people wanting to fix up their homes.

“It’s contagious,” he said.

In addition to constructing new homes in Bryan and rehabilitating duplexes in College Station, Thomas said, the organization also helps the tenants with referrals for medical help, getting medication and driving them to stores, pharmacies or doctors’ offices.

“We enjoy building them and maintaining them and helping the elderly in our community,” Thomas said during the ceremony. “Anything we can do to help people live independently by themselves for as long as possible, that’s what we want to do because that’s what each of us wants to do as we age ourselves.”

Throughout the Brazos Valley, Elder-Aid steps in, he said, to help with home repairs and other small needs they can meet. The only requirement is the people they are helping must be older than 60 years old and own their home.

For more information about Elder-Aid, go to www.elderaidbcs.org or call 979-823-5127.

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