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Age Friendly Home Adaptation Building Permit

Status: Ongoing

Sausalito United States of America
Print this page City population: 705033% over 60Practice started in 2018


A No-Cost Building Permit: Every 11 seconds somewhere in the country an older adult is treated in an emergency room because of an injury due to a fall. 50% of falls occur at home. To help residents age 60 and older and younger adults with disabilities improve their home environment, Age Friendly Sausalito joined with City’s Community Development Department to create the Age Friendly Home Adaptation Grant Program enabling homeowners and renters to make accessibility improvements to their dwellings with a no-cost or reduced fee building permit. This new program makes it more affordable to obtain building permits to make homes safer and more accommodating to the changing situations and conditions in life. The Age Friendly Permit can be utilized for individual or aggregated adaptation improvements and is free with a project valuation cost of a maximum of $10,000. Other concurrent remodel improvements that are not eligible adaptation improvements will be subject to the standard permit fees. All eligible residents may be issued up to two home adaptation permits within a one-year period for adaptation improvements of $10,000 for each home adaptation permit. This program was inspired by comments received during an Age Friendly assessment about the complexity and expense of permits. It was born in a follow-up community meeting of older adults concerned about aging in place in a seaside town built on a steep hillside, with multilevel houses and many stairs. Joining the Age Friendly Taskforce in designing the program were a retired architect, fire chief, independent living advocate, building inspector and city finance director. The City embraced the program making residents safer and increasing accessible housing, by dedicating funding to offset loss of permit revenues.


Key facts

Main target group: Older people in general

Other target group(s): Adults living with disability

Sector(s): Health, Housing, Urban development

Other sector(s): Safety

Desired outcome for older people:
Meet their basic needs

Other issues the Age-friendly practice aims to address:
  • Accessibility
  • Ageing in place
  • Dementia
  • Healthy behaviours (e.g. physical activity)
  • Inequities
  • Inclusion

Contact details

Name: Sybil Boutillier

Email address:

Age-friendly practice in detail (click to expand):

Engaging the wider community

Project lead: Local authorities

Others involved in the project:
  • Civil Society Organisation
  • Older People’s Association
  • Social or health care provider
  • Volunteers

How collaboration worked: The all-Volunteer Age Friendly Task Force led the work with City Staff and Community Advocates. We organized and initiated the steps and continued the momentum throughout the development process. as it began to be seen as truly viable, the City assigned additional staff to help with clerical and permitting issues. We met with City Finance Director to brainstorm how to account for the permit fee revenue loss. It was determined the “lost” revenue would be recorded as grants within the City accounting system.

Older people’s involvement: Older people were involved in the age-friendly practice at multiple or all stages

Details on older people’s involvement: The idea was generated by older residents convened by Age Friendly Sausalito and Sausalito Village. Two members of the Age Friendly task force, the Chair, and a retired architect (both seniors) met for several months with City’s Community Development Director, Finance Director and Building Inspector, together creating all the policies and procedures and developing background and educational information and materials and presented this work to City Council for acceptance & approval.

Moving forward

Has the impact of this age-friendly practice been analysed: No

Do you plan to evaluate your age-friendly practice? Yes

So far we have received all positive feedback from residents and the City Staff.

Expansion plans:
The City has agreed to continue to appropriate funds for the Age Friendly Permit program as current funding is spent down. Additionally, we are mentoring other age friendly communities in Marin County on the program and advocating for passage of a state-wide law to authorize all communities to waive permit fees for seniors to make accessible changes to their dwellings.

Looking back

We have learned about certain academic research projects and available resources (like the AARP Homefit Guide) late in the process. These resources could have saved us from spending time developing some of our own resources and support materials. For example, we developed our own version of a Home Adaptation Guide, and to save costs we negotiated a free licensing agreement with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp to use illustrations from their Self Check Home Modification Guide we had seen at the WHO GNAFCC Conference in Quebec. We customized it with information on helpful local resources and programs such as the Low-Cost Housing Authority Home Rehab Loans.

We needed to isolate the costs of just the accessible adaptations from a number of home modification projects in order to present to the City what the scope of such projects generally tend to be, and what costs that would represent to the City. We reached out to the Marin County Center for Independent Living, which has block grant funds to help folks being discharged from hospital with acquired disabilities to make accessible modifications to their home. They were able to provide us with numerous actual project quotes that enabled the City’s Building Inspector to estimate the rates of building permit fees we were asking the city to forego.