Senior group voices need for housing

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The need for senior housing in Cassville was described as "overwhelming" by Linda Parker, a member of the Senior Housing Task Force, during a recent presentation to the Cassville City Council.

Parker said recommendations made by the task force were based on a survey conducted among local senior citizens, research on housing offered in other cities and discussions among task force members. The task force was formed as an extension of the city's master plan process.

"This group has a lot of ideas and were very vocal," said Parker. "We talked about what's lacking in senior housing in Cassville, and we had really deep discussions on what senior housing means to seniors."

According to Parker, there is a need for both traditional and subsidized housing in Cassville. The Cassville Senior Housing Complex was built in 1975 and currently has 10 people on its waiting list. In addition, the units are smaller and lack some of the amenities seniors look for today, Parker said.

"Seniors are more active these days. They want more," explained Parker.

Based on the results of the survey the task force conducted, affordable duplexes or single family homes were the most popular type of housing requested. Seniors indicated they would like to see the following amenities provided with their senior housing: covered parking; two bedrooms; storage; electric appliances; a washer and dryer; and recreational facilities, such a exercise equipment or a walking trail.

For seniors on a fixed income, $300 per month, not including utilities, was the monthly cost the majority of those surveyed indicated they could afford.

"In addition to the need for subsidized housing, we also need housing for seniors who want to scale down," added Parker. "They want to stay in Cassville, because they love the community. They love what is here. Sometimes, they're forced to leave because we don't have any place for them to live."

City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck followed up on Parker's suggestions by adding that there was also a need for adult daycare in Cassville.

"Many local families are caring for aging parents and have nowhere to take them when they have to work," said Dilbeck. "We may need to talk to nursing homes and the hospital to see if we can come up with a get this problem solved. It's a very big issue."

The task force also discussed the need for a graduated care facility where seniors can live independently initially and then move into assisted care facilities as their health dictates.

On behalf of the task force committee, Parker asked the council to "aggressively" seek investors who are willing to invest in the Cassville community and create housing for seniors.

Members of the Senior Housing Task Force included: Parker, Vida Finch, Martha Henry, Joyce Holt, Margaret Hurlbut, Deborah Owenby, Barbara Rhoades, Ian Russel, Corky Stehlik, William Vaughan and Annabel Walker.

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