Almost 30 years ago, Pearl Axelrod and Dorothy Robb saw a problem and set out to solve it. Pearl, a retired social worker, and Dorothy, new to the area and living alone, both volunteered at the Turner Geriatric Clinic and observed the difficulties encountered by seniors and their families seeking appropriate and affordable housing options.

Dorothy purchased a large home and began experimenting with the concept of “shared living”. Pearl lent her training and commitment, and the Housing Bureau for Seniors was founded. The lessons they learned from Dorothy’s shared living experiment served as a blueprint for the HBS HomeShare program. In 1983, HBS began offering services with two programs — HomeShare and Housing Counseling. In 1990, we added the Property Tax Foreclosure Prevention program and in 1995, we developed the Elderly Eviction Prevention program.

As we have added new programs, our staff and clientele have expanded. Staffing in 1983 consisted of a part-time director, a part-time senior aide and 18 direct service volunteers assisting 110 clients. We now have a full-time director, four program coordinators, a part-time assistant to the director, a secretary and volunteers assisting more than 1,100 clients every year.

A major shift in financial support occurred when, in 1994, the Housing Bureau for Seniors became a community-supported program of the University of Michigan Health System. The solid foundation of support from the University of Michigan Health System, the contributions of private and corporate donors, and grants from local civic groups and municipalities, ensure ongoing services to our clients and our community. As a part of the University of Michigan Health System, we are not-for-profit and charge no fees. HBS is also building an endowment fund to safeguard the future stability of our programs.

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