No Vacancy: seniors find themselves shut out amid affordable housing shortage

Virginia News

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) – Seniors are living longer in America, and many survive on a fixed income. However, in the Richmond region and across the country affordable senior housing is in short supply.

At the Marywood Apartments, a subsidized senior housing community in Henrico, there’s a long waiting list for residents.

98-year-old Helen Ford has been a resident at the Marywood Apartments for 14 years, and after all these years, she said, “I love it.”

Marywood is an independent living facility and Ford couldn’t be happier living there. She said, “Everybody is so friendly and nice. It is kept clean and secure.”

Residents at Marywood Apartments.

Ford is lucky to have a place there. Currently, the waiting list is between two and three years long. Lidija Dekanic, manager of the independent living community, says they have just 111 apartments.

“Demand is huge. We see it every day and unfortunately, all we can do is tell people we will be happy to put you on the waiting list,” she said.

Dekanic says there’s not enough affordable housing in the area, and she hates telling desperate seniors there’s no room.

“It is heartbreaking when you hear them say what am I going to do? I won’t be alive anymore by then. Or I am running out of money or I’m homeless. You know, I live in my car ” she said.

President Joe Biden has pledged $400 billion dollars for aging services. The goal would be not only to invest in affordable senior housing but to help nursing homes and adult daycares increase staffing and provide a living wage for their employees.

LeadingAge and some of the 5,000 nonprofit senior living and adult daycares it represents are calling on Congress to act as lawmakers prepare to vote on the budget reconciliation package.

“This has long-term implications for well into the future for the health and well-being of older adults,” said Katie Sloan Smith, President and CEO of LeadingAge.

Dekanic couldn’t agree more, “Our generation owes them that. Put more money in affordable housing.”

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