REGION — The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Aug. 29 to develop a shared senior housing program for people aged 55 and older.
Under the proposal by Supervisor Joel Anderson, the county’s chief administrative officer will explore partnering with an existing successful program that promotes shared living arrangements, funding sources and staffing. The CAO will return to the board in 120 days with a framework for implementing the program.
Anderson said the county started a shallow-rent subsidy program after a study showed the fastest-growing group of homeless people are those 55 and older, with a spike at age 65. The county has a pilot program addressing the problem, “but I don’t believe that’s enough,” Anderson said. “I think it’s really crucial that we end senior homelessness here in San Diego County.”
Over the last year, the county witnessed a 25% increase of those 55 and older living on streets, or more than 2,000 people, Anderson said. “It’s a crisis that can’t be ignored,” he added.
The shared senior housing program would match seniors with other seniors in need of a room, and help lower housing costs and other expenses, Anderson said.
“I understand there (are) many challenges, but we really have to blow the boxes and look at all possible options to solve this problem,” Anderson added. “I can’t think of anything worse than a society that allows their seniors to be put out on the streets.”
Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer and Chairwoman Nora Vargas stressed the need to ensure that roommate compatibility is part of the program.
Lawson-Remer said as a mother needing professional care for her child, she finds using an app like Care.com to be difficult, because it doesn’t really address the human component.
“This could end up being the type of program that benefits intergenerational groups, in our community, starting with the focus on seniors,” she added.