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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Senior Moment: A “Housing Forum” For Seniors

Marsha Andrews, J.D.
Marsha Andrews, J.D.

On November 17, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., The Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, along with the Senior Housing Affinity Group will sponsor a forum on affordable senior housing. Although boomers are living longer than previous generations, and in some instances, outliving their retirement funds, safe affordable housing (whether home owners or renters) is needed.

The forum will provide a comprehensive agenda that will include various topics regarding housing and how to live in a safe healthy environment. The presenters will also give the attendees an update on the 2009 “Quiet Crisis” report. Not familiar with this report? Well, here is a summary of the initial concerns and what has now come to fruition.

In February, 2009, a collaboration between Aging and Disability Services, Seattle-King County Housing Authorities, and other public agencies, created a report entitled “Quiet Crisis: Age Wave Maxes Out Affordable Housing, King County 2008-2025.” As you know, the “age wave” consists of us, the post-World War II generation, whose population of seniors is growing exponentially. By 2025, this population will double and represent 23 percent of King County’s total population.

The report addresses the characteristics of seniors living in King County who are about to turn age 65, as well as how to find answers to the following four major questions:

  1. What are the demographic trends, as they relate to the need for affordable senior housing?
  2. How will the needs of tomorrow’s seniors differ from today’s seniors, living with current-day challenges?
  3. What types of senior housing and supportive services will be needed in future years?
  4. What actions can our community take to address the needs that are emerging?

In response to these questions, the report outlined various strategies that would (a) help King County residents prepare and succeed in retirement; (b)develop policies and services that would help seniors remain “in place” at home; (c) create a wider range of choices for low income seniors, who rely on subsidized housing and state sponsored health care; (d)make strategic investments of local, state and federal public funding that will expand the supply of affordable housing for seniors ; (e)provide regulations and incentives for the development of affordable housing for seniors; and (f)create senior friendly neighborhoods. These proactive measures are important because it is usually the number one priority for seniors to have the desire to stay in their homes as long as possible however, many will not able to do so.

While conducting and reviewing numerous surveys, the agencies concluded the following:

  • Baby boomers have higher incomes and educational levels than prior generations, but are less prepared to afford housing in retirement. The shift from lifetime retirement income (pensions and annuities) to lump sum sources puts boomers at risk of outliving their assets an depending entirely on government benefits.
  • Boomers are living longer, but longevity may come with the price of living with disabilities that bring on challenges of finding and sustaining adequate housing.
  • Programs such as property tax abatement, minor home repair, weatherization, in-home care and nutrition services can help us to “age in place” but funding is limited. Currently, a bipartisan group of Congressional members introduced The Senior Accessible Housing Act (HR. 5254), which would provide a tax credit of up to $30,000 to people over 60 for aging-in-place modifications to their homes, such as widening doorways for wheel chairs, installing ramps, handrails and grab bars. The credit would be nonrefundable, which means that if you do not owe federal income tax, this credit would not benefit you. It has not passed yet but is expected to gain momentum in both House and Senate.
  • More publicly assisted housing units are needed. It was determined that the housing ratio to low-income seniors in King County is insufficient and in order to keep up with the “wave”, an additional 4,267 units were required by 2015, or an additional 15,913 units by 2025 – meaning a 900 unit increase per year until 2025.

These were some of the concerns of the collaborators of this report, which are insightful and critical to all King County residents. To read more about the “Quiet Crisis”, go on line and read the full report at http://www.agingkingcounty.org/docs/seniorhousingstudy.pdf. The housing crisis should be a concern to ALL Baby boomers and beyond. It is import that you attend this forum because a lot of information will be given to those who attend. It goes without saying that “information not only makes you stronger, but gives you the basis to make better decisions.” The location for the November 17th forum has yet to be determined. I will keep you posted. Thanks for sharing “a senior moment” with me. Until next time.

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