Pricing Lake County Seniors Out of Their Homes

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The Lake County Commissioners authorized a study to be done by MCS Consulting Services entitled Lake County, Ohio Senior Citizens: Today, Tomorrow and in the Future.  The results of the study were given to the Commissioners on October 16, 2015.

The following is a link to a chart provided in the study that gives the age ranges of people in Lake County over the age of 60.

Senior Population in Lake County

As of 2015, Lake County’s total population was 229,245, and according to the Lake County Commissioners it is declining.  If ~ 55,000 of the people are currently over 60 years of age, that means ~24% of the current population are seniors.  By 2030, the MCS report states that percentage will be 33% (1 out of 3) with most of the growth in the 75 years and older category.

The study showed that Lake County has a “strong community-based senior service delivery system that can be positioned to accommodate larger number of older seniors by 2030”. (Note: With our Council on Aging, the RSVP (volunteers), and the 10 Senior Centers they believe that we have a foundation on which to build to meet the future demands.)

Historically, the senior levy funds were distributed on negotiated amounts at the time the levy was initiated.  Council on Aging – 52%; RSVP (volunteers) 5%; Ten Senior Centers 43%. Also, $2,743,687 was allocated in 2014; $2,588,342 in 2015; $2650,000 in 2016, and $2,641,834 in 2017. (Note: per the Levy Distribution schedule shown in 2017 the Council on Aging received 56% of the total funds, so there may be some decision making going on, rather than the formulaic approach done in the past)

The study reported that 58% of 2013 levy funds were spent on personnel, 22% on programs, 10% on capital and major equipment (all by senior centers), 8% on facility, and 2% on other operating expenses. (Note: I do not have enough data yet to determine if 58% spent on personnel is reasonable.)

Per the study, most of the allocation of the levy funds was based on historical numbers, rather than on changing needs.  This has created “a monopoly of senior service providers”, is funded without competition, and thus no motivation to change. (Read: it was on automatic pilot.)   The report also said that “there is a lack of accountability for usage and outcomes”.  It was also stated that “the current system appears to lack an appropriate process for determining needs and spending resources”.  (I will mention this at the next Commissioners’ meeting to see what they plan on doing for the future allocation of resources. A comparison of the 2017 distribution may show a “needs based” approach is now being used.)

We also found another study on Seniors by The Center for Community Solutions.
Here is a link to their website:

http://www.communitysolutions.com/assets/docs/Research_SI_files/NEORIO/2015/northeast%20ohio%20seniors_emb.pdf

Some interesting statistics in the report:
By the year 2030 here is their estimate of the Lake County Population by Age:

60+                33.9%
45 to 59         17.8%
20 to 44         27.2%
Under 20       21.0%

Among Lake County residents, households with people 60 years and over, 46.9% have an average of $49,690 earned income per year.  Less than 1/2 (49.3%) of Lake County households over age 60 have retirement income, but 77.5% receive Social Security payments averaging $18,488 annually.

In Lake County 6.1% of residents over age 60 live in poverty, and 7.6% are living near poverty.   That is 13.7% of residents barely surviving! Almost 6% of seniors receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), compared to 8.4% of the overall population.

Let’s look at statistics on Housing:
Here is the breakdown on where Lake County Seniors live based on extrapolation of the 2015 population with 2013 percentages:

Nursing home facilities                 3.2%       ~  1,200 people
Own their home                           79.1%      ~ 43,500 people
Rent their home                           17.7%      ~ 10,300 people
                                                                        ~55,000 people

According to the report, “the generally accepted threshold for housing affordability is spending less than 30% of household income on housing expenses. Senior renters struggle more than senior homeowners with un-affordable housing.  The median rent for a senior in Lake County is $754 per month; to afford this rent, a household needs to have an annual income of about $30,156, or $11,672 more than the average annual Social Security benefits”.

Based on a 2009 – 2013 American Community Survey Seniors:
Owning their home paying more than 30% of income for housing in Lake County:  27.1%
Renting their home paying more than 30% of income for housing in Lake County:  53.5%

These statistics confirm our previous statement to the Lake County Commissioners:  If we continue on our present path of ever escalating real estate taxes, we will start to price Seniors and the others living on fixed incomes out of their homes that they have worked all their lives to achieve.

For our Seniors and others on fixed incomes, we are on a path of UN-SUSTAINABILITY!   We have ~50,000 people at risk, and they should be considered a protected class.

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