Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Housing Cape Cod's Aging Demographic

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 @ 12:09 PM

Maplewood_1.jpgThe entrance to the recently built Maplewood at Brewster assisted living facility. 

A home is tied to our identity, whether it’s a first, second or third one. Home gives us comfort and peace, particularly as we start to age and our needs become greater.

A select group of Cape residents will find that comfort in Maplewood, a new assisted living facility consisting of 132 units on 22 acres of land in Brewster. At the beginning of this week, HAC’s Cape Community Real Estate oversaw the lottery for 14 of those apartments – seven assisted living and seven memory care – that have been designated as affordable. The monthly rent, including services, for the affordable units is roughly $3,000.

“We don’t do a lot of these,” Gael Kelleher, the director of the real estate department, said, noting that this was an unusual lottery because of the demographic for the units. Technically, they are for those over the age of 62, but HAC received 25 applicants, the majority of whom were born in the 1920s and 30s.

Before starting the process, Kelleher admitted that, “we thought it would be difficult to find applicants that fit within the guidelines,” a preconception that turned out not to be the case.

To be eligible, applicants had to make less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County, or $46,100 a year for one person. That income would make it difficult for anyone to afford the monthly rent so Kelleher said applicants needed to have the proper assets – accrued savings, property or retirement accounts – to cover those costs.

The need for affordable housing for Cape’s elderly demographic is growing, said Nancy Davison, HAC’s vice president of program operations. “This is the first time we’ve worked with a developer of assisted living units in trying to find eligible residents for this type of facility,” she said. “I thought it was interesting… In a number of ways, this lottery is illustrating the fact that our population here is getting older.”

With that fact brings a whole host of needs – medical, social and domestic – for those entering the latter stages of life. Simple tasks such as getting up and down the stairs are difficult for some and impossible for others. Cooking, cleaning and remembering to take one’s pills are other chores that become increasingly onerous as one ages.

Maplewood_Photo_22.jpgHAC's Gael Kelleher (right), draws numbers at the lottery held earlier this week at Maplewood, a new assisted living facility in Brewster, as Bridget Armstrong, also of HAC, looks on. 

The benefits of a facility like Maplewood are that they address many of these needs in-house. They provide residents in assisted living units one meal per day with the option of purchasing more; three meals per day are provided for those in memory care units. They offer social and recreational activities, shuttle services and housekeeping. And assistance with prescriptions as well as medical treatment, can be included at an additional cost.

Kelleher said each applicant has their own individual story for why moving to a facility like this makes sense. But the common thread, she said, is that “they just can’t continue to stay in their houses, but can’t necessarily go live with their children because they are not set up with the care that is needed.”

In addition to the 14 units at Maplewood in Brewster, HAC will oversee two additional lotteries for similar Maplewood facilities, both of which are in Yarmouth – Maplewood at Mill Pond off Route 28 and Maplewood at Mayflower Place on Buck Island Road – and are slated for completion in 2017.

Personally, Kelleher said overseeing this lottery has provided a unique perspective on the aging process. “It is very important to have some retirement money set aside,” she said. “It’s a difficult situation people will be in where they can’t stay in their house, but can’t afford the $5,000, $6,000 or $7,000 a month needed for an assisted living facility. All of us should take pause because there will be a time in the future where we won’t be working anymore and our social security isn’t going to do it.”

To her, this experience has demonstrated one simple fact – housing impacts those of all ages. “We serve a very diverse population, from children all the way up,” Kelleher said. “And housing is an issue across all boundaries, when we’re young, in the middle and near the end. It is an issue for everybody.”


Tags: affordable housing