Senior housing needed

To the editor:

As a healthy senior citizen in the middle-income bracket, I have discovered there is little to no housing available in the Steubenville-Wintersville area. There are plenty of apartments for the upper income, but most are out of the price range for those like myself, and, if one is found, chances are it is not accessible for a senior. The public-private housing units have income restrictions. I was told by a real estate agent there is not a demand for such developments, that they are not profitable and would not pay for themselves.

But why would companies such as the Woda Group be building a unit on Sinclair Avenue, unless it will be restricted by income level? According to an article in the March 7 Herald-Star, this company has created 9,000 housing units since 1990 in rural, suburban and urban areas across 13 states. There are several senior housing units in the Wheeling and St. Clairsville area which are not limited by income, but there is approximately a two-year waiting list.

Another consideration would be baby boomers. As a senior who, like many others, has worked hard and lived in this area all my life, I would like to stay here, but this is not likely. Read the obituaries to see how many seniors have to move away to be near children to get the care they need. The only option for them locally would be a nursing home. Like many, I have pre-arranged my funeral, so if I have to move out of state I will have to make other arrangements.

This type of housing would take a burden away from families. They could know their elderly loved ones are in a safe environment, where they would be independent, but have assistance available. Having an apartment to live in would benefit seniors physically and physiologically. They would be able to keep many of their possessions, prepare their own meals and have the option to purchase meals in the facility’s dining room.

Currently, senior units charge for three meals a day in the rent. The interaction with others would be good.

April was Fair Housing Month. I have spoken to the Ohio Department on Aging, as well as Gov. John Kasich’s office and other government leaders. By putting income requirements on senior living apartments, are we discriminating against the middle class? I was told by the manager of a local senior facility that it’s easy to hide your income so you qualify for the housing. Why should a senior have to lie or cheat to find affordable housing?

I would like our officials and local developers to look at what is being done in other states. I have inquired about senior housing in two other states and, in each case, the facilities offer independent living, assisted living and nursing home units. The ones in Minnesota were built by the local hospital. Politicians are always saying they don’t want to leave anyone behind, but have they and society forgotten the middle class?

Malvin Lilly