Genesee County not ready to meet the needs of middle income seniors, OFA director tells legislators
Genesee County is woefully unprepared to serve the needs of adults reaching retirement age in middle-income brackets, the director of the Office for the Aging, Ruth Spink, told members of the County Legislature during the Human Service Committee meeting on Monday.
There is retirement housing available for those with low incomes or little savings, and housing available for those in upper-income brackets, but there is nothing available for those who might afford living arrangements that fall between the $700 and $2,000 a month range, Spink said.
If there's really an issue, Legislator Andrew Young asked, isn't that an issue for the free market to address? Shouldn't we just let capitalism do its job?
Spink said she's not suggesting direct government intervention, but the county, through the Office for the Aging, can play a role in raising awareness, alerting potential developers and attracting investment into the county. She suggested the county host workshops and seminars to draw attention to the need.
Legislator Shelly Stein said she's certainly aware of a need in Le Roy. She said about 10 people a year move out of Le Roy and into Bergen Meadows because there is inadequate senior housing available in Le Roy.
Spink said if the county doesn't address the issue and there isn't new development to meet the need, many residents who want middle-income senior housing will leave the county. Three days ago developers imploded the former MIllard Filmore Hospital tower in Buffallo to make way for a new high-density, mixed-use neighborhood. Spink said it is those kinds of developments that local residents might seek out if there aren't alternatives available in Genesee County.
Then there are the local residents who are maybe a decade or two away from retirement, but aren't planning ahead. They need both the awareness that can be fostered by seminars and the ready housing supply to meet their needs when they retire, Spink said.
"They're thinking, well, I'm not getting old for another 20 or 30 years, but they're not realizing that someone could become ill, could have a car accident, could need hip surgery or knee replacement surgery and they can't navigate in their house, they can't get up the stairs, they're not thinking about that," Spink said. "They're just living in the moment, not thinking ahead."