A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

HomePLUS Support Services for Independent Living

Last Revised: Mar 21, 2011 - Initial Posting: Jan 24, 2007

The Greater Erie Community Action Committee administers the HomePLUS Program to assist public housing residents maintain their quality of life in a safe and affordable independent home setting.


The Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC) serves as the lead agency for the HomePLUS Program to help meet individual needs necessary to maintain independent living for senior citizens and other residents at two public housing high-rise apartment buildings.  HomePLUS is a contractual partnership between GECAC and the Housing Authority of the City of Erie (HACE).  GECAC subcontracts services from Life Works Erie (formerly Erie Center on Health and Aging), and Stairways Behavioral Health.  The program was developed to provide on-site services to the increasingly needy population in the two targeted buildings.

HomePLUS brings together Caseworkers from GECAC, behavioral case managers from Stairways, and nursing staff from the ECHA.  Client services are coordinator by the GECAC Casework Supervisor.  The program is located entirely on-site in both buildings that have 195 and 200 units respectively.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging Omnia® Assessment Tool is used to assess daily living skills, determine individual needs, identify appropriate resources, and develop a plan to coordinate services to help meet those needs.  SAMS™ (Social Assistance Management System) is used to order and track services as well as document progress and other needs that would prevent the resident from continuing to live independently.  Every resident is reassessed on a regular basis for changes in their physical and mental conditions.

Each staff person provides services that address certain areas of need in a resident’s life including medical, behavioral and general aging services.  GECAC’s general case managers provide overall case management and supervision.  They provide linkage to community resources and services.  Stairways mental health case managers provide mental health counseling and support to at need residents.  ECHA nurses provide med set-up and monitoring at no charge, as well as on-site medical services.  The program is able to provide subsidized personal care, housekeeping, and Meals-on-Wheels for residents in each building.

In 2007, HomePLUS added an Activities Coordinator position. This position is responsible for creating, planning, organizing, implementing, and overseeing recreational and social activities. Examples of activities include:

  • Morning exercise classes
  • Red Hat Society
  • Monthly Erie Historical education program
  • Christmas Party
  • Holliday Bell Choir
  • Valentines Day party
  • Door decorating contest/celebrity judges
  • Singing groups
  • Reading groups
  • Obtained 150 Seawolves baseball tickets for residents (local minor league baseball team)
  • Sock Hop
  • Intergenerational activities w/local day cares
  • Weekly entertainers
  • Bingo
  • Quilt Square
  • Line Dance classes

Various group activities are also offered by HomePLUS including:

  • Speakers are brought in several times a year in each building in varied topics to keep residents informed and up-to-date on pertinent information that affects their lives. Topics have included Medicare Part D, Home Health Services, and Fire Safety.
  • A Health Fair is sponsored each fall with a flu shot campaign as the focus of the event.
Monthly staff meetings are held involving all service-level staff to ensure effective coordination.  An Advisory Team meeting is held quarterly involving the partner organizations.  All program components are funded by HACE through a mix of funding sources.

In order to be eligible to live in the two target buildings, an individual has to be considered low-income and either over the age of 59 or physically and/or mentally disabled.  Initially, most residents were primarily over the age of 60 but the number of residents under the age of 60 has dramatically increased.  This has resulted in more outside agencies that are also involved with the younger population.  HomePLUS staff operates in a support role for residents who have case managers from other agencies.


In 2000, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) presented HomePLUS with a National Award of Merit for Program Innovation in the area of Resident and Client Services.

In FY08-09, 65 residents were able to avoid moving into nursing homes or assisted living facilities. In addition, 237 residents received support from the program.  All of these residents were able to continue living independently as a result of HomePLUS support.

Results of a 2008 Safety and Services Resident Survey conducted by CORE (Center for Organizational Research & Evaluation), Penn State Erie include for each building respectively (Schmid Towers and Friendship Apartments):

  • 122 and 124 surveys returned (74.39% and 68.13% response rates)
  • 62.58 and 64.86 years old for average age
  • 94.9% and 94.2% were aware of the HomePLUS program
    • 94.9% and 85.8% were aware of the Summer Senior Picnic
    • 88.5% and 88.9% were aware of the HomePLUS Health Fair
    • 85.2% and 83.8% were aware of Meals on Wheels
  • 73.6% and 78.9% used HomePLUS: 13.2% and 2982% 3-5 times per week or more, 9.0% and 13.2%  1-2 times per week, 16.39% and 14.0% 2-3 times per month, 27.05% and 21.9% once per month or less
  • HomePLUS services used
    • 51.4% and 52.4% Nursing Services
    • 19.0% and 24.0% Medicine Monitoring
    • 12.4% and 26.0% Personal Care
    • 19.6% and 26.8% Counseling
    • 20.8% and 27.6% Home Support
    • 7.9% and 26.0% Waiver Services
    • 8.5% and 13.8% Meals on Wheels

John Pete, HomePLUS Program Coordinator