“The formula for what makes a community livable isn’t particularly complex. For the most part, the features and needs are fairly simple.
“But living in a place that, say, requires having a car for every errand or outing can be a difficult place to live if you don’t have a car or can’t drive.
“Living in a place without access to outdoor spaces, good schools and healthy food isn’t very livable, especially for young families.
“Living in a community that isn’t safe, or offers few activities, can be isolating for people regardless of age.
“On the other hand, a community that includes all of the features pictured in our “In a Livable Community” handout can be great — for people of all ages!”
AND people with a disability!
It is not only happening here in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. It is a nationwide challenge. Here are two articles from opposite ends of the nation, that focus on just two aspects of adequate, safe, affordable, dry and warm housing.
“Phil Chang added an apartment over the garage in his alley after the city of Bend, Oregon, made it easier to build what are known as accessory dwelling units. Two of the homes next door also have ADUs that can be entered from the alley.” – Erika Bolstad / The Pew Charitable Trusts
by Erika Bolstad
“It was, the Bend City Council reasoned, one way to make room for affordable housing in a city that saw its population double over two decades and is projected to add 30,000 residents by 2030. Bend and other Oregon cities have difficult-to-expand urban growth boundaries that limit new sprawl. That means new development must be a creative mix of habitat, especially if Bend wants to be affordable for everyone.
“‘What was done in Bend has now become a model,’ Bend Mayor Sally Russell said. ‘We started it, we tested it.’
“The new state zoning law also addresses a structural mismatch in available housing, particularly in cities like Portland, said Mary Kyle McCurdy, deputy director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a conservation group that got its start advocating to restrict sprawl in the 1970s.
“In Portland, two-thirds of households consist of one or two people, McCurdy said, yet most of the available homes are detached single-family housing. An estimated 90% of residential areas are zoned for single-family, detached homes.”
This message from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Secretary, Robert Torres, comes in the Inside Aging – August eblast. It’s an idea that many in our Service Area (Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Counties) have talked about … shared housing.
“Many of us may have experienced placing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility—it’s a challenging process for both the family and the older adult. This can isolate the senior from regular time with family and friends and put them in a new setting to adjust to, as opposed to the comfort they have been used to in their own home or local community. The family having to rehome an older adult may worry about cost, quality of care, and a change in convenience of spending time with them.
“Aging in place is an option we know that most seniors prefer, and improving access to affordable and accessible housing is an objective of the department’s State Plan on Aging. An AARP study found that an overwhelming 90% of people age 65 and over would rather stay in their own home as they age.
“It’s important to know that there are alternatives for the seniors in our lives when it comes time to make such a difficult decision. Within the last two years, the Department of Aging has overseen the launch of two very exciting housing programs: the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) pilot program, and Pennsylvania’s very first Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity (ECHO) program.
“The SHARE housing program launched in 2017 in Pike, Wayne, and Monroe Counties in partnership with the Pike County Area Agency on Aging and the support of the counties’ commissioners. SHARE brings together homeowners with extra space in their home and individuals, referred to as home seekers, in need of affordable housing. SHARE counselors assist a matched set of homeowners and home seekers in making a plan where affordable housing is offered in exchange for rent, help around the house, or a combination of both.
“Last year, the department celebrated Pennsylvania’s first ECHO cottage in Clearfield County. Elder cottages are small, separate, manufactured residences that are temporarily placed on the side or rear yard of a host family for an older adult. This allows privacy for both the senior and host family, while at the same time assuring accessibility for both parties as necessary. Additionally, the cottages are far more cost-effective for both parties and give the older adult the option to avoid premature admission into a long-term care facility.
“SHARE and ECHO allow seniors to age in their communities, close to their family and friends, without concern of isolation. Programs like this can give families one peace of mind about their loved one’s wellbeing. If you are interested in exploring housing alternatives for an older adult, please reach out to Julie Seby, firstname.lastname@example.org, at the Department of Aging to learn more about these programs.”
How Much do you Need to Earn to Afford a Modest Apartment in your area? Click here to find out.
Heard about “ALPHA”? | This York County initiative is tackling the issue of helping people by bolstering interest in personal care homes
Click on the above graphic to download the entire fact sheet.
“In southcentral Pa, low-income residents are at risk as personal care homes rapidly close” – The Hanover Evening Sun
“Personal Care Homes (PCHs) are residences that provide shelter, meals, supervision and assistance with personal care tasks, typically for older people, or people with physical, behavioral health, or cognitive disabilities who are unable to care for themselves but do not need nursing home or medical care. While available services vary and are based on the individual needs of each resident, services provided at a typical PCH include assistance with:
Personal Care Homes are inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. They are usually privately-owned, although some are operated by local governments or non-profit agencies. In Pennsylvania, homes may be licensed to care for as few as four people and as many as several hundred. -SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
To find information on a Personal Care Home near you see the Personal Care Home Directory.
“The need is great and growing for accessible, affordable housing” | maybe this is one step toward satisfying that need?
Shuttered stores dominate the interior of the Schuylkill Mall which has closed and been demolished in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
This article at Pennlive today, “Dead and dying malls of Pennsylvania, updated: More shopping centers are bleeding retailers.” prompted a revisited look at an idea that’s being floated across the nation.
What will become of these once-popular retail centers? Demolish them? Re-store them? Re-purpose them?
“The retail apocalypse has not been kind to malls. Credit Suisse recently studied the state of mall-based retail and predicted that that about one-fourth of the nation’s 1,100 shopping malls — or roughly 220 to 275 shopping centers — will close by 2022.”
The above is the lead paragraph from this Forbes Magazine article: “Why Malls Should Add Residential To Their Repurposing Plans.”
Te idea that malls offer ideal solutions for affordable, accessible residences is one that has to be considered. Many malls already are on public transportation routes; they already have plenty of parking and they’re “walkable.”
This white paper by New York State Assemblyman Stephen Englebright points out other benefits for older adults and people with disabilities:
- Mixed-use development that includes housing, shopping, amenities, and
access to transportation and professional offices provides easy, often
walkable, access to necessities for daily living and substantially reduces or eliminates use of personal cars—thereby, (1) helping non-driving older people and people with disabilities to remain independent for much longer periods of time, (2) keeping these individuals integrated with others in the community, and (3) significantly supporting the caregiving efforts of family members.
- Subsidized housing in place of distressed or vacant strip malls, or developed above prosperous malls, helps address the State’s significant need for additional affordable housing, thereby helping to keep seniors and people with disabilities living in their own communities instead of relocating.
- Small numbers of affordable units above a box store or strip mall, or incorporated as a component of a mixed-income larger redevelopment of a shopping center furthers the integration of low- and moderate-income families and individuals into the wider community.
Another Forbes Magazine shares the thought: “4 Models Of The Shopping Mall Of The Future.”
In Providence, RI, “You Can Now Live Inside America’s First Shopping Mall for $550 a Month: But there’s already a waiting list for these new micro apartments.”
by Ginia Bellafante
“Last fall, a special investigator for the United Nations presented a report to the General Assembly on the global housing crisis, pointing out that a quarter of the world’s urban population now live in ‘informal settlements’ or encampments, increasingly in the most affluent countries. The fact-finding mission took the investigator to cities like Mumbai, Belgrade and Mexico City, where she found rodent infestations, children playing on garbage heaps ‘as if they were trampolines’ and people living in shacks or in damp abandoned buildings full of exposed wires.
“At the invitation of academics and advocates, she also went to to San Francisco, where the median home price is $1.6 million.
“There she witnessed equally deplorable conditions. Crucial to the report’s assessment was the finding that the city’s resistance to providing help and basic necessities in the encampments there qualified as ‘cruel and inhuman treatment,’ which was in line with violations of international standards of human rights.”
Katherine Frey/Washington Post
by TARA BAHRAMPOUR, The Washington Post
“Mary Gerace has lived here since 1963 and loves it. But at 73, she worries that someday she may become too frail to stay in the rent-controlled third-floor walk-up apartment where she has lived for 42 years. Then, she fears, she won’t be able to afford to remain in the city.
“‘I’m fine now, thank goodness, but a surprise fall or a serious illness could change that,’ said Ms. Gerace, who retired three years ago from working in human resources at a small company. The low rent on her apartment, which she shares with her brother, enables her to own a car, eat out sometimes, and take occasional day trips.
“But local senior housing facilities she has looked into cost many times more than what she now pays, and far more than her savings would cover. ‘As I look around the Washington area, I realize that I’m going to have to look outside of here,’ possibly to another region of the U.S., she said.
“In the next decade, the number of seniors who are middle-income is projected to soar, and a large share of them will be unable to afford housing and care, according to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs.”
AN OPINION: “Older adult finances and future senior housing options are out of sync” – Aging In Place Technology Watch
Rant on. A sad tale – reading the lament about the numbers of seniors who will not be able to afford assisted living in 10 years. The report is from NIC – the National Investment Center that provides research to the senior living industry. The upshot – 54% will be unable to pay the $60,000 average annual cost of assisted living (make that $93,000 in Washington DC), even if they sell their home. If one member of a couple is still living in the home, the number rises to 81%. According to the study, 60% of the population aged 75+ will have mobility, cognitive impairment or chronic conditions that would characterize them as good candidates for assisted living services and settings – but will not have the savings to enable them to move in.
There are some problems with this study’s message to the industry. First the affordability gap of assisted living and the population that could benefit. This has been a statistical fixture forever (move in age of 85 noted in 2012 and again in 2015). What has changed, if anything, is life expectancy. For those aged 65+, living into the late 80s or even the 90s is increasingly likely. Looking at life expectancy lasting to mid-to-late 80s combined with average savings for those aged 75+ of $16,025 for a couple with no children, it is no wonder that the steady state penetration of assisted living remains stuck at 10% of the likely population, at least according to the industry. According to NCAL, seniros stay 22 months on average, before moving to skilled nursing. With assisted living occupancy at 85% being attributed to over-building, but one might also posit that price-plus-life expectancy keeps even the willing and interested at home.
Consider the operating margin of 34% and the real cost – can tech help? This industry has been a real estate investment play from the very beginning. One executive interviewed for the NIC study observed, reluctantly, that margins could be compressed to create more affordable options, perhaps by building on less expensive land. Hopefully not from robbing the pay of CNAs who do the real hands-on labor – their average pay of $11-12/hour nationwide can’t be pushed down much further. Maybe high-end food choices could be trimmed, the lobby furniture more modest, or the long-shot on operational costs, noted in the Health Affairs the study: “Technology is already driving innovation. The implementation of an ever-expanding panoply of high-tech solutions such as artificial intelligence, voice technology, smart phone apps, smart sensors, and telehealth can help improve quality of life, and care, while reducing costs.” Right.
The margin question is about people — how to need fewer or boost pay to recruit. The staff-to-resident ratios may, in some states, already be too thin to handle assisted living memory care residents. For families of a resident, that means supplementing the $60K annual cost with the hidden cost of needed private duty home care aides (same hourly rate). For many, that additional cost may drive families elsewhere, to nursing homes or back home. But the real problem will limit expansion of assisted living is a shortage of available workers — for assisted living, skilled nursing and home care. Where to recruit this low-paid workforce in a high employment time, competing with wage levels of Walmart and McDonald’s? Finally, will we read the same lament in 10 years about the large population of now-aged boomers who cannot afford assisted living? Count on it. Rant off.