Smith: Watch out, I have things on my mind!


I’ve had a bunch of interesting tidbits running through my mind the last few weeks.

InMaricopa magazine’s focus last month on volunteerism struck a nerve with me. I want to thank Justin Griffin and InMaricopa for highlighting National Volunteer Month in the April edition. It is very important to recognize the contributions volunteers of all ages make to this community. There are a lot of very giving people who periodically deserve to be acknowledged for all the work they do to help others.

The Maricopa Pantry suffered a devastating fire. It lost over 40,000 pounds of food and several storage trailers. The food bank has been serving the community for 20 years and helps nearly 1,200 families a week. Last year, it distributed over 3 million pounds of food. They plan on rebuilding and, with help from organizations such as St. Mary’s Food Bank, should be operational in some form by the time you read this. You can check their status at to see if there is something you can do to help them come back bigger and stronger.

I recently saw a reminder about our state’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). About $197 million came to Arizona from the U.S. Treasury as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The program assists low-income homeowners who have experienced financial hardship related to COVID-19 (after Jan. 21, 2020). The assistance is intended to prevent foreclosure but can help with more than just mortgage payments. HAF can help with past-due utilities and internet service, insurance, property taxes and HOA fees. To check your eligibility and to apply visit

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is designed to help low-income households pay for broadband service and internet-connected devices. If your household is eligible, you can receive:

  • Up to a $30 per month discount on your internet service.
  • Up to a $75 per month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands.
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet or desktop computer (with a co-payment of between $10 and $50).

Go to to see if you qualify.

Finally, a couple of shout-outs to Arizona homebuilders. As you may know, I’ve been advocating for a better home product for retirees. I want to see new homes that provide a better level of safety and comfort utilizing Universal Design features. Universal Design offers improved safety and comfort, and greater adaptability to future lifestyle changes, which greatly enhances the ability to age-in-place in your forever home.

I recently visited Del Webb’s Sun City Anthem at Merrill Ranch. I found that Del Webb has included several very important features as part of their standard design: a zero-step entrance from the garage, wider doorways and wider hallways. By altering the footprint of their designs, these changes make the home safer and more comfortable and eliminate most of the expensive renovations required when trying to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker following a fall. In fact, these features help prevent falls — the No. 1 source of injury to seniors.

By incorporating Universal Design principles into their standard features, Del Webb recognized the value to their target buyers and did the responsible thing for all homes targeted to retirees. There is nothing that shouts “handicapped living” in these houses, but when the time comes, they are ready.

My other shout-out goes to Shea Homes. Not because they have incorporated Universal Design as of yet, but because of their retirement planning tools. Their Resource Guide is a very nice planning tool if you are starting to plan for your retirement home.

Ron Smith is a living-in-place advocate, a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee, a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist and a Certified Living in Place Professional.

This content was first published in the May edition of 
InMaricopa magazine.