By Paul Downey
Serving Seniors may be most well-known for its meal program, which provides 2,500 meals a day to seniors across the county. In 2017, the organization served 600,000 meals, which can greatly assist seniors that may be on fixed incomes, yet their housing expenses continue to increase.
In addition to nutritious meals, Serving Seniors helps seniors in poverty live fulfilling and healthy lives by also providing health services and affordable housing. The organization currently owns and operates 350 units of affordable senior housing, Potiker Family Senior Residence (200 units) in downtown San Diego and Potiker City Heights Senior Residence (150 units).
Early this summer, Serving Seniors will open its 62-unit Schmale Family Senior Residence in Ramona. Developed in partnership with Chelsea Investment Corporation, it will be the organization’s Seniors’ first affordable housing complex in east San Diego County.
Like the East Village and City Heights senior apartment complexes, Serving Seniors’ Ramona units are designated for seniors earning between 30 and 50 percent of the area’s median income, or $15,000 to $35,000, including those with disabilities, mental health issues and a history of homelessness. Rents are expected to be approximately $476 to $818 per month for a one-bedroom and $569 to $978 for a two-bedroom, and qualified seniors will pay 30 percent of their income to live at The Schmale Family Senior Residence with Section 8 housing vouchers available to cover the remainder of the rent.
The need for these additional units for low-income seniors is significant. The calculated income needed for a single San Diego senior to pay for rent, housing, healthcare and transportation is $1,974/month. However, according to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefits paid to retirees is $1,360 a month, which means if a senior is relying on Social Security alone, it is not enough to pay for monthly expenses.
Add into the equation the unique circumstances of San Diego County, where housing costs are a stressor for many. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,748 per month – well beyond the income of many senior citizens. According to July 2017 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.8 percent of the San Diego population is age 65 or older. It is no surprise based on these numbers that two out of every five San Diego seniors are at risk of homelessness, and unfortunately seniors account for 30 percent of San Diego’s homeless population.
The Schmale Family Senior Residence in Ramona is a step toward alleviating the existing stressors that affect our local seniors. Serving Seniors believes in an integrated approach to serving older adults, and each apartment building provides supportive services such as social worker visits to help manage the needs of residences, access to a registered nurse and recreational activities.
Paul Downey is President & CEO of Serving Seniors. If you are a senior in need of assistance, would like more information, or are interested in donating to Serving Seniors, call Serving Seniors at (619) 487-0608 or visit servingseniors.org.