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Archive for Thursday, March 17, 2011

Douglas County Commission to explore option for low-cost senior living

March 17, 2011

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Douglas County Commission agreed Wednesday night to further explore the possibility of Tenants to Homeowners to acquire land at 25th Street and Cedarwood Avenue for moderately priced senior housing.

Rebecca Buford, executive director for Tenants to Homeowners, said the housing would serve a growing niche in Lawrence of aging people who want to downsize but are not yet ready to start leasing.

“This is kind of the niche that we’re imagining, and this niche is going to grow,” Buford said.

Buford presented a potential plan for the land, which includes six smaller cottages and a larger congregate living house. Buford said the nonprofit organization’s thinking was that the congregate living would be rented space and the cottages would be subsidized for purchase at a lower-than-market rate.

“That’s kind of the exciting thing, is that this is a new model,” Buford said.

Gayle Sigurdson, who is on the Douglas County Commission on Aging Housing Committee, said while low-income housing was available, there are long waiting lists for many properties that can last years.

“People want to come to Lawrence to retire,” she said.

The new development would serve people who had already lived in the county and had saved while working but might not want to purchase a more expensive home.

Buford, who also lives in the area where the project is proposed, said she thought a complaint from the public might be that the land was used as a park, although it is not designated for that purpose.

“In my mind, this is a better use, and it would allow the county to collect taxes,” she said.

United Way, which is adjacent to the land, used to be a county-owned nursing home. The land Tenants to Homeowners wants was intended to be an expansion to the nursing home before the county stopped operating it.

The plan has the support of the Kaw Valley Older Women’s League and the Douglas County Commission on Aging.

After Tenants to Homeowners develops its plan for the land further, the commission will decide whether to convey the land to the group. A public hearing will take place before the decision is made.

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