Testifying for the Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care

October 27, 2017 - Paul Downey

Our President and CEO, Paul Downey, testified this week at an informational hearing for California’s Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, emphasizing the importance of affordable senior housing and access to health and support services.

The hearing provided an opportunity for leaders in senior services organizations to share observations and boots-on-the-ground perspectives with state leaders to help them understand the types of programs and services that California seniors need. The session, part of a series of public hearings throughout the state, focused on creating or improving services which help seniors age at home.

In addition to Paul Downey, experts from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, AARP California, the California Assisted Living Association and other organizations discussed the importance of efficient, accessible services for seniors and the unique service needs of this population. Representatives also shared resources and examples of successful service models and proposed solutions to help elected officials affect change.

A Unique Perspective

Besides being our President and CEO, Paul Downey serves as Chair to the California Commission on Aging. As the state’s principal advocate for older adults, the Commission’s mandate is to ensure healthy, purposeful, dignified longevity for older Californians. The Commission also advises the Legislature and federal, state and local agencies on programs and services that affect older adults. With an impressive list of credentials and many years of experience, Paul is uniquely positioned to provide valuable insight into challenges around aging and services for seniors.

Paul began by sharing that Serving Seniors was the first organization in the country to receive approval to use Section 8 vouchers for transitional housing for homeless individuals. This project-based use of Section 8 vouchers is certainly better than nothing, but we’re still unable to triage homeless seniors’ situations efficiently due to the strict rules and bureaucracy involved in the Section 8 program.

Paul illustrated the challenges and inefficiencies Serving Seniors faces as a result of the lack of housing in San Diego with this example:

“It used to take our team 90 days to help a homeless senior through the transitional housing program and place them into permanent, affordable housing. Now, because of the lack of housing units, seniors might wait up to a year for placement. We have nowhere to put them after they complete the program.”

What Can You Do?

As Serving Seniors approaches our 50th anniversary, we urge San Diego citizens to get involved and support our ever-growing senior population. If the youth of today is our future, seniors are our legacy. Encourage your City Councilmember to make affordable housing a priority today: sandiego.gov/citycouncil

10 Quick Facts About Housing in San Diego:

  1. Current vacancy rate in San Diego: 2.73%
  2. Average cost of a studio in San Diego: $1,529/month
  3. Average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego: $1,640/month
  4. Average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego: $2,000/month
  5. Average cost of a single-room-occupancy unit (90-100 sq. ft. “hotel” room with a communal bathroom down the hall) in San Diego: $750/month
  6. According to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, there are presently 3,700 adults aged 55+ on the streets of San Diego.
  7. The average wait time to receive Section 8 vouchers upon approval: 10 years
  8. Serving Seniors owns 350 units of affordable senior housing between two properties; for our 150-unit building in City Heights, there is presently a waiting list of 256 individuals. We turn one or two units per month.
  9. In recent years, 10,000 SRO (single-room-occupancy) units have been demolished in San Diego development projects.
  10. Keeping our senior clients in their permanent housing units requires constant support and intervention from our clinical and support teams. We have to strike a balance between landlord and social worker to keep seniors who have a history of episodic homelessness from regressing.

 

 

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