Explaining the Curb Cut Effect

By Executive Director Deanne Everton

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I recently learned about the Curb Cut Effect from the Coalition for Home Repair, specifically as it applies to home repairs for our communities’ older adults.  I’ve always known that Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley’s work of providing home repairs and safety modifications at no charge to our low-income clients, primarily older adults and people with disabilities, had a lasting impact beyond what could be immediately measured.  See our Impact Measurement results. But understanding that impact as a Curb Cut Effect was a new way of thinking about our community impact.

The Curb Cut Effect refers to solutions designed to serve the most vulnerable or marginalized that ultimately lead to large-scale positive change.  Indeed, it got its name from that crudely constructed sidewalk ramp built in Berkeley in the 70s (what we know now as a curb cut) that provided much-needed mobility for Berkeley students with disabilities AND became a symbol for the way the country thought about access and opportunity for all.

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In the home repair world, there’s no doubt that person-centered repairs and safety modifications improve our older adults’ health and well-being. When we apply the Curb Cut Effect, our work has the potential to:

  • Improve or prevent neighborhood blight
  • Abate chronic code enforcement citations, emergency calls, and police officer visits
  • Ease caregivers’ burdens
  • Lead to less unplanned care
  • Benefit other household members’ health
  • Offer multi-generational socialization and engagement through the process of completing the work, especially with volunteers
  • Preserve affordable housing
  • Stabilize and possibly improve property values
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While Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley doesn’t limit their home repairs to older adults, the average age of our clients is 71, having lived in their home for an average of 26 years.  We know the work we do every day keeps our clients safe and healthy for years to come. But when we apply the Curb Cut Effect, our work not only has a lasting, and much greater, impact on the communities we serve as well, but makes it an even greater investment. 

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At Rebuilding Together – Silicon Valley, we believe that everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy home, so we help provide critical home repairs to over 600 clients per year, including those who are aging in place. We rely on generous donations—like those on Giving Tuesday—to continue our essential work and the positive impact we have in these communities.

You can help us make a difference in these communities by donating to our cause today or you can learn more information about what your donations help us accomplish by watching Robert’s story!

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