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Plan identifies financial challenge for seniors to stay in own homes

Real Estate - Residential
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The Office of Community Development has drafted a Five-Year Consolidated plan that identifies the top concerns of Richland County residents regarding housing and development, including the need to help elderly residents afford living in their own homes.

In May, the group organized nine public meetings as well as an online survey to gather information about housing, development and infrastructure concerns.

Priority needs included rehabilitating existing affordable housing units, reviving abandoned or dilapidated properties, home ownership assistance resource and infrastructure projects.

Researchers also found that many of the single-person households in need of housing assistance are over age 62.  Nearly 33,000 elderly residents who live in their own homes experience cost burden, paying more than 30% of their gross household income on housing costs including utilities, insurance, and property taxes, the report found.

The report said 32% of all owner-occupied households burden by housing costs are over 62. However, residents over 62 represent only 14% for the county population.

“Stakeholders interviewed during the community participation process agree that elderly residents face significant challenges in finding safe and affordable rental units,” the report said. “According to stakeholders, many elderly renters are looking for one-bedroom units, which are difficult to locate and often unaffordable.”

The report added that senior housing complexes have low turnover rates, limiting availability for people in need.

“Elderly homeowners need assistance with home repairs and improvements in order to ‘age in place’,” the report said. “For some elderly homeowners, the deed to their property is not in their own name, making them ineligible for most home repair programs.”

A public hearing about the plan is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the 4th floor conference room at the County Administration Building, 2020 Hampton St.

The plan is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order for Richland County to receive federal funding for housing and development projects. For more information and to submit comments, contact Richland County Community Development at 803-576-2055 or jenningsj@rcgov.us.

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