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Spotlight on Success: Spic & Span for Seniors

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Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay, Florida

For many of the older adults living in HUD assisted housing in the Tampa Bay region, routine inspections by landlords are mandatory. In short, inspections are implemented mainly to ensure that the older tenant is able to sustain an independent lifestyle, without the need for continued monitoring of their health, well-being, safety and living environment. For many of the older tenants, life in such households can often come at an aberrant cost.

Realizing that this little known problem was an ever-pervasive threat to many of the older residents in Tampa Bay, Florida, the local organization, Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay (SIS), partnered with a host of regional education institutions and businesses to address how to assist older adults avoid eviction because they are unable to maintain their living environments.
The hidden threat of displacement from independent homes often plagues many of the older tenants when the upkeep of their housing fails to meet the guidelines of routine inspections. These inspections—which are contracted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—often determine that the occupants are unable to care for either themselves or their apartments. However, many of these older adults living in independent housing strive to maintain a clean environment, but are often hindered by the physical limitations of older age.

With the beneficiary support of local organizations, MetLife Foundation and Partners for Livable Communities, Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay took matters into their own hands and committed efforts to purchasing cleaning supplies and equipment for the project they called “Spic & Span for Seniors.”  The program successfully tapped into underutilized community resources—college students, faith congregations and local businesses—to help prevent the needless displacement of elder residents at six HUD older adult living complexes in the Tampa Bay region. With help from the Jumpstart the Conversation Grant; “Spic & Span” was able to mobilize nearly 178 volunteers to clean more than 180 apartments with over 570 hours of volunteer work.

Volunteers of the “Spic & Span” program helped older tenants by performing many of the arduous physical tasks such as vacuuming and scrubbing floors, windows and walls. The project became an instant success and was recognized at the National Conference on Volunteerism as a Best Practice Model of Innovation (2008). Now with over three-years of dedicated service, the “Spic & Span” project has evolved into a successful program for the Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay and continues to foster a beneficial environment between communities of the Tampa Bay Region.

It is worth noting that in the process of assisting older adults clean their apartments, older and younger generations were brought into contact with one another.  Without “Spic & Span” this might not have happened; it strengthened the bond between community members who respectfully care for one another. According to one HUD housing partner in Tampa Bay “interaction with young people is important for our elderly, especially when the interaction is done with respect and dignity and providing a special service like cleaning.”

You can read more about the organization here:  Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay