The problem: 6100 senior households [in the region] struggle to keep a roof over their heads. The past year and half we have been focused on the problem of unaffordable supports and services for seniors because we heard more than 150 congregational stories about struggling elders and caregivers. Supports and services are available in-home or at institutions like assisted living or nursing homes. Given the national statistic that 9 out of 10 seniors want to stay at home, and because our stories indicate that caregivers want to provide for their loved ones at home, we chose to focus on the in-home side of the problem. We’ve since learned that over 6100 senior households in the region struggle to keep a roof over their heads, meaning they pay more than 30% of their income toward housing costs like rent or mortgage and utilities. 2800 of these are in Albemarle County alone.
There are currently 160 seniors on the waitlist for affordable senior housing in Charlottesville, and last year 68 households fought foreclosure. Housing is the largest regular monthly expense that seniors and caregivers face. Our community has a major shortage in affordable housing specific to seniors. If our seniors could get connected to services that lower housing costs, they could stand a better chance to afford the other care and options they desperately need. If our community had more affordable housing options, then seniors could continue to live with dignity and respect in their home where it’s most comfortable. IMPACT is working to identify solutions that will allow seniors to remain independent in their home or community if that is their wish. Seniors may have to move when their health weakens, but they should not be forced to move based on the high cost of living!
Our jail locks up about 3,150 drug and alcohol addicts every year. Nearly all women in jail have also experienced sexual abuse and violence. An alternative to jail for these victims is residential treatment, but there are no local options for women. IMPACT has pushed Region Ten and city and county staff to develop a plan to create a residential recovery center for women.
Region Ten plans to open the Women’s Treatment Center by the end of 2017. It will serve 50 women and two of their children per year. It will need $75,000 annually from the city and county, each. Because of IMPACT members speaking regularly at public meetings in the city and county, the funding has made it to their preliminary budgets for the upcoming year! We expect construction to start in March!
We have passed the first hurdle but are working to make sure it stays in the budgets. IMPACT members are attending city council and county board of supervisor meetings to make our voices heard!
Upcoming Justice Ministry Events
- Nehemiah Action on April 25th, at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Performing Arts Center, doors open at 6pm, meeting 6:30-8pm: With a goal of 1300 people present, we’ll press local decision makers for solutions on seniors and housing
- Justice Ministry Celebration on May 25th, Dinner from 6-7pm,7-8pm: Fellowship and celebrate together what God has enabled us to win this year and invest in our ministries