“Age-Friendly” Housing Needed: Estimated 54% of Retired Elder-Only Aging Households Have Incomes Too Meager to Insulate Them Against Poverty
On September 25, 2018, The Bergen Record featured the opinion piece, “Age-friendly” is way forward on senior housing.” Colleen Diskin, communications director for Age-Friendly Teaneck authored the piece.
Diskin writes of the “gaping hole in the housing marketplace for seniors.” When The Brookdale Senior Residence in Teaneck opened in April of 2016, “Its 61 apartments were all spoken for before the ceremonial ribbon was even cut, and its wait list climbed to 10 years within weeks of its opening.”
“The average annual Social Security benefit for a single senior citizen in Bergen is less than $19,000, and for an estimated 30 percent of New Jersey seniors, Social Security is the only form of income. Yet, a single senior renter in Bergen County spends about $15,000-a-year on housing costs alone, which leaves many skimping on basics such as food, transportation or health care as a way to make rent each month. Those grim statistics come from the 2016 New Jersey Elder Economic Security Standard Index, a state Division of Aging Services measure of the income that retired adults need to meet basic monthly expenses.”
“The analysis reveals the troubling economics of growing old in New Jersey, where an estimated 54 percent of retired elder?only households have incomes too meager to insulate them against poverty as they age.”
Retired and aging elder-only households without incomes to protect them from poverty face the risk of homelessness.
In order for housing to be considered affordable, an individuals or household should pay no more than 30% of its income for housing. This allows for the remaining income to be left to pay for the basic needs of food, transportation, health care, medication, etc.
On September 20, 2018, Westfield Senior Housing Corporation and Monarch Housing Associates took Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-R-7) on a tour of the Village at Garwood. The Village at Garwood is a 72-unit senior rental community in Garwood that provides “Age-Friendly” housing for very low-income senior citizens ages 62 or over.
Congressman Lance told advocates to urge their colleagues in other states to invite leadership in the U.S. House Appropriation Committee to visit affordable housing developments in their communities to help make the case for increased funding.
Diskin points out that “What the Brookdale example shows is that Bergen County has to move away from its long history of resistance to affordable housing to a future where the needs of all seniors – including those with low and middle incomes – are prioritized.” It can be argued that this is true for many other, if not all, communities across New Jersey.
“In a dozen years, one in five New Jerseyans will be over 65. It’s long past time for communities to plan for what their aging populations will need.”
Brookdale Senior Housing wass funded by:
- The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 202 program,
- Low Income Housing Tax Credits,
- New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency construction loan,
- Enterprise Community Investment,
- Teaneck Senior Citizen Housing Corporation
- Bergen County HOME Funds
- Bergen County CDBG Funds, and
- Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program grant provided through Bogota Savings Bank
Monarch Housing Associates served as a consultant on the project and played a major role in identifying and preparing applications for the various sources of funding.