Monday, January 08, 2007

More senior housing...

As we debate tax cuts for seniors with the good fortune of owning homes that just keep getting more valuable, it's important to remember there are many for whom increasing tax bills would be a welcome sign of progress. Thanks to some of those "greedy developers," a few of the truly less fortunate seniors are finding refuge.

Perched on a hillside above historic Ellicott City's Main Street, Howard County's new 25-unit Tiber-Hudson apartment building was designed as a welcome refuge for vulnerable older people.

The earth-tone block, brick and glass building is owned by the county's Housing Commission and is designed for those ages 62 and older with limited incomes and who are struggling with a variety of medical and housing problems. The three-story, $3 million building is intended to allow residents to stay, even as they become more frail.

…The apartments range from 480 to 645 square feet, and each has a bedroom, living room, small kitchen and a large bathroom, equipped with handrails and easy-entry showers. Rents range from $250 to $500 depending on income, including utilities, according to Timi Lash, the county's property manager.

…Leonard S. Vaughan, the former county housing director, crafted the deal for the building with developer Paul Revelle and builder Dale Thompson, who are selling upscale retirement homes starting at $550,000 at Scott's Glen, on Cedar Lane at Owen Brown Road in Columbia.

Revelle and Thompson were required to provide 14 moderate-income units in Scott's Glen, but condominium fees and taxes would have made it hard for limited-income buyers to afford them. So they agreed to build Tiber-Hudson instead, at cost. In addition, they contributed $1.2 million to the project, while giving the county nine more units.

"It wound up as pretty much a good deal for both parties," Revelle said.

I'd say so.


David W. Keelan said...

Interesting article in the Sun. Here are my thoughts. While property values have been increasing.

"The 18.7 percent average annual statewide increase is down from last year's all-time peak of 20.1 percent, officials said."

Homeowners don't realize those gains until they sell the home. Right. These values are only on paper for those who are not selling. However, the State and the County is going to take property taxes based upon those valuations TODAY. Insurance premiums are going to rise based on those valuations TODAY. Out of pocket expenses are due TODAY. If these values stay as high as they are then one will realize them much later.

Thankfully, "Most homeowners are protected from the full impact of the increases on their property tax bills by local assessment caps."

However, with assessments that high and higher property taxes are set to rise for the next 20 years unless their is a very serious market correction or a crash. That means no one is getting relief. Howard County is getting a $164M windfall from these market conditions TODAY. Homeowners have to sell and move in order to take advantage of the same windfall.

So who is winning out here?

Anonymous said...

Who? Well a short list would be:

- the County coffers
- developers

And a short list of those losing:

- those people who are on fixed incomes who don't want to move and can't afford to stay
- the environment

Some other communities are less inhospitable to their indigenous residents. Interestingly, an article on the New York Smart Growth website, details how Rochester, instead of driving senior citizens away (ahem), is making concerted efforts to attract them to the core of the city.

Doing so will allow them better access to services and transit, transit being a necessity for many seniors to maintain their independence. Fitting, too, that a transit-oriented mixed-use complex was built on an abandoned car dealership site.

Howard County, and more specfically, Columbia, don't have anywhere near the amount of brownfield sites as Rochester for bringing seniors to mixed-use sites close to transit, but solving the car-dependency issue for seniors here will also be inevitable. Afforable and accessible transit needs to be on the drawing board.

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