Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Almost twenty five percent of residents in Ward 1 are over the age of 65.
Some of us walk everyday, some can hardly answer the door. Some are active in city affairs, some don't pick up their newspapers or empty their mailboxes. Some are seemingly well endowed for retirement, others count the months they can still afford to live here. Some live in single family homes, others in Victory Towers.
Irrespective of age, many people feel overwhelmed.
We used to have a senior representative who would act as a liaison between our elders and the various services in the city, county and state which could provide a lifeline. I suggest that the next city council look at reinstating that position in the future. Currently the Housing and Community Development Department supports people in need of housing, food and emergency assistance and directs people to the county and community groups that might be helpful. The Recreation Department has a Vital Living 55+ webpage and videos. Code enforcement works separately.
Perhaps it would be helpful to streamline all that into one contact person so that it's easier to navigate.
Several residents mentioned code enforcement citations during my meetings with them. Some leniency on deadlines has been requested, especially by those who have been out of town when cited. Others, perhaps who have had peeling paint, can go to Ace and grab some paint and a brush, but a whole home? Many of the steps, walkways and railings also need repair. Two postal carriers told me they have fallen when they grabbed rails that broke. I've smelled black mold just standing outside the front door of a couple of homes.
What can or should the city do to help fix homes that's outside the scope of a kind neighbor or whose repairs go beyond the financial ability of someone on social security or other financial difficulty? While there is a Maryland program that can grant up to $10K for repairs for someone to stay in their home, perhaps there are other foundations we can look to for help, or reduce property taxes to individuals who need repairs. Perhaps at least our city, if not the county, can follow the lead of states like Massachusetts which defers property taxes after a resident reaches the age of 65 until the home is sold.
Connect Takoma to resources: When we connect, we care.