As Baby Boomers entire retirement, the need for affordable senior housing is escalating throughout the metro area – including here in Washington County.

In 2014, Washington County was home to 2,350 households making less than $30,000 that included a member over the age of 55. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to nearly 3,500 households – an increase of almost fifty percent in just six years.

For that household, a rent payment of more than $750 – 30 percent of their monthly income – leaves them cost-burdened, and less able to pay for things like health care. That’s not easy to find in a county where half of all rental units rent for more than $1,045 a month.

So we’re grateful to the Pioneer Press for its front-page coverage on Sunday on the efforts of local housing groups to meet this growing demand. The article outlines a number of approaches undertaken to optimize flexibility and choice for seniors, including:

  • Strategies to help senior homeowners receive in-home care and assistance maintaining their properties
  • Promoting development of senior-friendly housing alternatives for those looking to downsize out of single-family homes that may no longer fit their needs
  • Financing tools to encourage the construction of affordable senior housing for those who do not own homes

The retirement of our Baby Boomers poses unique challenges. People are living longer, which is great. But Boomers also had fewer children than their parents, and those children are more likely to have moved away from their parents for other opportunities. A Heartland Monitor poll from earlier this year indicated that nearly half of all people do not live in close proximity to where they grew up. As a result, traditional support networks for seniors are not as present as they once were.

That means finding new approaches to ensure that our seniors can enter their golden years knowing their basic needs can be met.

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