“Meeting the Need for Affordable Housing for Seniors” – November 8, 2023
An overflow crowd of 72 members and guests learned of the complex nature of providing affordable housing for a growing demographic of seniors in Idaho, who, for many reasons, find themselves needing assistance with a place to call home.
Adrienne Lane-Martin, IWCF member of the Education committee, and partner in the firm erstad ARCHITECTS, introduced the two speakers—Andy Erstad, of the firm, and Casey Mattoon, director of Our Path Home, a public-private partnership with a goal of ending homelessness in Ada County.
Casey described the current and future need as a “crisis” with the increase in older adults becoming vulnerable because of living on fixed incomes, rental and housing prices going up, and other factors. Our Path Home works with Boise City, other government agencies, non-profits and private entities to find housing, and also the support services which the occupants require to live healthy and comfortable lives. Casey shared that from 2010 to 2020 there was an 86% increase in seniors over the age of 65 in our community.
Andy prefers using the term “income limited” for people requiring affordable housing, rather than “low income.” He described his definition of affordability as the balance between market forces and individual income, and thus is not a set figure. He and his firm have spent more than 20 years designing housing that is “dignified, safe, secure and contemporary.” He showed visuals of various housing projects the firm has designed, describing the attention paid to accessibility, materials, interior design, and, of course, funding.
Both speakers identified funding as a challenge, in that there are so many partners and that the cost per square foot does not differ much from high rent apartments. Also important are sustainability and maintenance costs which must be taken into account.
While much is being done to solve homelessness, all three speakers emphasized that all of us can voice our support of those working on solutions. Foremost is support for funding–city, county, state and federal funding–for senior housing. Everyone can find ways to get involved and to get educated.
And finally, if you or someone you know is experiencing a housing crisis, you can call 208-336-HOME (4663) for resources, information and support.