When Aging in Place in Darien conducted focus groups a couple of years ago, several respondents told us that they would have to move away from our town because they couldn't afford to stay. Our recent quantitative research confirmed such comments. Housing and taxes are just too expensive for some seniors.
Even though most seniors have paid off their mortgages, other living expenses still abound and keep climbing as people hire employees to help them with more daily tasks. Social Security provides only a portion of most seniors' income; and interest rates paid on savings accounts, CDs and government bonds are very low. Cash flows for many are withering away. So when property taxes, upkeep, food, utilities and the price of services all rise, staying in a large home in a place like Darien becomes more difficult financially.
Darien has only 30 affordable housing units set aside for seniors. And it has very few market-rate condos or rentals. Because affordable housing has become a very hot topic in my town, and because I'm interested in helping seniors, I decided to see what neighboring suburban towns are offering by calling the local Housing Authorities and other government agencies. Here is what I've learned:
Darien - 30
Greenwich - 291
New Canaan - 119
Westport - 50
Wilton - 115
In Wilton, some of the assisted living and senior residences that rent at market rates have units set aside that are affordable. This is the case at the Greens at Cannondale and at Sunrise Senior Living. I wish we had affordable spaces at Atria in Darien. I also wonder why the old nursing home that now stands empty on the Post Road can't be turned into a mixture of market-rate and affordable senior apartments. I wish that either the former library could become the new senior center and the old senior center could become affordable senior housing (or visa versa).
I'd love to know how others feel. Post your comments.
There is clearly a need.
Blog Topic: "Aging at Home" -- This blog provides information to help fiercely independent seniors to stay in their homes as long as they want. The national movement is called "Aging in Place." I was a founding member of the Board of Directors for At Home In Darien.
ITN Expands Again
I just got this email press release from ITN America. It shows how ITN is expanding to bring transportation services to seniors in more cities across the country. I heard Katherine Freund speak about a year ago and was very impressed with how she developed ITN. It's a good case of social entrepreneurship.
ITNAmerica is very pleased to announce the establishment of ITNRacineCounty. We are especially grateful to Racine County and to the Racine County Economic Development Corporation. ITNAmerica now has a network of 16 affiliates in 12 states.
"We are so happy to be in Wisconsin and to celebrate the birth of our newest affiliate", states Katherine Freund, Founder of ITNAmerica. "We are already ramping up our training and support staff to help them build their new organization."
"Racine County is committed to finding creative ways to improve the quality of life for all its citizens without unnecessary burden on our taxpayers", says Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds. "Bringing ITN here to Racine County will provide a wonderful boost to seniors' quality of life, with safe, reliable, and dignified transportation. We are proud to help foster such an innovative program."
ITNAmerica is the first and only national non-profit transportation system for America's aging population. To learn more, please visit www.itnamerica.org.
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