Seniors get helping hand from U.S., N.H. programs

  • USDA Rural Development staff pose for a photo with Norman and Sharon Hansen, a Chichester couple that recently received grants to renovate their home and make it more accessible. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 6/29/2016 11:45:37 PM

As they grew older, Chichester residents Norman and Sharon Hansen, ages 81 and 74, have had more and more difficulty getting up and down their front steps. Now, however, thanks to help from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program and Granite State Independent Living, the couple has received renovations to make their home fully accessible. 

On Tuesday, USDA Rural Development and GSIL staff spent the afternoon with the Hansens doing yardwork, landscaping and celebrating the new ramp, walk-in shower, elevated toilet and new water filtration system installed in the house. 

The event was held in conjunction with National Homeownership Month, which lasts for the month of June. 

“It’s really, really wonderful that we have this assistance now,” said Sharon Hansen said. “We didn’t know what we were missing until he (Norman) fractured his back.” 

As part of their mission to help New Hampshire seniors age in place, GSIL provided a $4,880 Harry Gregg Foundation for the Hansens to construct a ramp up to their front door, and USDA Rural Development also gave a $7,500 Home Repair grant for the bathroom rennovations. 

These measures will, in part, help the Hansens stay in the home they’ve lived in for 16 years. The couple previously lived in Concord, and on Tuesday, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

Norman Hansen is a retired, lifelong New Hampshire Department of Transportation employee, and Sharon Hansen continues to be an active member of the Center Point Church in Concord, where she volunteers with the food pantry. They have two children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. 

Over 100 families like the Hansens received help last year from USDA Rural Development. In addition to their Home Repair grants for eligible seniors, the agency offers 20-year, 1-percent interest loans to very low-income households. Anyone interested can call 223-6035 or go online to

In addition, the aid the Hansens received from GSIL, which promotes life with independence for people with disabilities or those undergoing the natural process of aging. More information can be found at or by calling 228-9680. 

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