San Diego, CA–San Diego Seniors Community Foundation introduced its “San Diego Master Plan for Senior Centers,” a large-scale countywide plan to bring modern, sophisticated senior centers to every San Diego community.
The announcement, made May 26 alongside San Diego County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Nora Vargas and San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate, was a call for support for the urgent need to upgrade and build local senior centers to transform community-based support services for San Diego’s large and growing older adult population.
The report is a response to California’s “Master Plan for Aging” and Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for counties and cities to create specific action plans for what’s needed in their community. The foundation’s Master Plan provides a comprehensive analysis of the region’s senior centers, highlighting the disparities that exist in lower-income neighborhoods and recommending improvements or additions needed in every community to better serve local seniors as the older population booms.
“Every senior deserves a safe, nearby place to build community, access resources, and stay healthy and connected,” San Diego Seniors Community Foundation founder and board member Bob Kelly said. “The problem is San Diego’s older adult population is growing dramatically – there will be approximately 1 million people over the age of 60 living in our county by 2030 – and the region’s current senior center ecosystem won’t be able to provide adequate support.”
In San Diego County – from San Ysidro to Oceanside and Coronado to Borrego Springs – there are 28 senior centers, serving only an estimated 8% of the older adult population. Many of the existing senior centers are underfunded, understaffed, and lack sufficient programming. Five key areas lack a senior center altogether, and the plan outlines recommendations for Barrio Logan, Clairemont, Eastlake/Otay Mesa, El Cajon, and Santee/Lakeside. Out of the 28 existing facilities, 13 are older, outdated, or have extremely limited buildings and amenities, and five are recommended for expansion, renovation, or upgrades.
The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation has established the San Diego Master Plan for Senior Centers Capital Campaign to raise $147 million over the next 10 years to start building the network of modern senior centers needed countywide.
“To create the robust network of modern, innovative, well-funded and fully staffed centers our region needs will require significant collaboration and coordination between government, nonprofits, businesses, healthcare, volunteers, and the community,” said Cate. “I have been a longtime advocate of older adults and seniors centers and know we can achieve this San Diego Master Plan for Senior Centers if we all work together.”
“Equitable and healthy aging is critical for the abuelitos and abuelitas in our county,” said Vice Chair Nora Vargas, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “Now is the time to be innovative and bring new ideas to address the challenges that we have in front of us with our growing senior population. If we do this right, our senior centers will provide excellent and essential support for the older population as hubs for physical, mental, social, and financial health for seniors today and for generations to come.”
Leading the charge is the Sahm Family Foundation, which has committed $2 million over 4 years to further the administration and programmatic support senior centers need to modernize. This funding has enabled San Diego Seniors Community Foundation to distribute its first series of Empower San Diego Senior Center Grants to fund a paid executive director for the Ed Brown Senior Center, Fallbrook Senior Center Thrift Store capital improvements, San Diego Workforce Partnership Mature Workers Project and Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center’s new Retirement Academy. The foundation is also currently planning additional major grant cycles.
Taking an additional step forward to deliver much-needed support to local seniors, the foundation also announced the launch of its Wellness Services Navigator Program to provide on-site resources and support at the Peninsula Shepherd Center in Point Loma, the Fourth District Senior Resource Center, and the Ed Brown Senior Center in Rancho Bernardo. Building upon the community health worker model, the navigator works in targeted regions to improve the accessibility of services and support older adults to help maintain their independence within their homes.
To learn more about San Diego Seniors Community Foundation, view the summary brochure and full Master Plan, or donate to the capital campaign, visit sdscf.org/seniorcentermasterplan.