Aging In Place
What Is Aging in Place?
Since 2011 when the oldest post-World War II baby boomers began turning 65, roughly 10,000 boomers have celebrated their 65th birthday every day. By 2035, there will be more people over the age of 65 in the United States than under 18.
Clark County, much like the rest of the nation, has entered an aging trend. The number of people over the age of 60 is projected to grow by 142 percent between 2010 and 2040, making seniors 27 percent of Clark County’s population by 2040.
|Age Group||Expected Rate of Growth from 2010 – 2040|
As of 2017, around one out of every five people is over the age of 60 in Vancouver. As the population continues to age, the City can take measures to increase the ability for seniors to “age in place,” or be able to stay in their homes or communities as they age. From supporting aging services and programs, to addressing housing affordability, to planning for increasing walkability, recreational opportunities, and transit options, the City is working to improve the livability of neighborhoods to support aging in place.
Issues and Opportunities
A 2018 survey of adults by AARP shows that more than six in ten adults would like to remain in their community or current residence for as long as possible, and both this preference and likelihood increases with age. However, changing healthcare needs, loss of mobility, financial concerns, and home maintenance can be significant impediments to this desire. In addition, government planning and development practices of the past few decades have not adequately promoted independence as we age, with issues of longer and more costly commutes, increased social isolation, higher infrastructure costs, greater dependency on automobiles for mobility, and higher housing costs serving as barriers to aging in place.
Older adults are attracted to communities that offer a shorter commute, proximity to shops and services, a mix of homes, a mix of incomes, and robust public transit options. According to the AARP survey, the community features that were rated extremely or very important by seniors are well-maintained streets, well-maintained hospital and health care facilities, safe parks, conveniently located hospital and health care facilities, and easy to read traffic signs (see Figure 1).
As people age, communities remain a source of support and engagement for residents. While 80 percent of adults over 50 years old want to age in place, only 59 percent anticipate they will be able to stay in their community, either in their current residence (46 percent) or in a different home still within their community (13 percent). Adults 50-plus and 65-plus also report greater frequencies of driving to get around their communities than those ages 18-49. As the ability to continue driving declines, having alternative modes of transportation is critical for supporting mobility throughout all life stages.
The City’s role in providing diverse housing options, alternative modes of transportation, recreational opportunities, accessible parks and open space, and education on how to age in place is critical to creating communities that promote physical independence, dignity, and opportunity for community engagement and choice as the population ages.
Vancouver is working to create livable communities where residents are able to live comfortably throughout their lives. The City is in the process of developing an aging in place education initiative, which will seek to educate residents, the development community, and other stakeholders about how to support aging in place; from retrofitting existing homes, to providing supportive services and programs, to developing age-friendly and livable neighborhoods and communities.
In addition, the following City initiatives provide resources to residents that want to age in place, and support increased mobility and housing options for seniors in our community:
Home Rehab Loan Program
The City of Vancouver assists low- to moderate-income homeowners with completing needed health, safety and livability improvements on their homes, including accessibility-related upgrades. Approximately 15-20 projects are completed annually. The funding to complete rehabilitation projects is provided to homeowners via a loan held and serviced by the City, with amounts ranging from approximately $5,000 to $25,000. A small amount of funding is also available for home repair grants to mobile homeowners. The Housing Rehab Loan program is funded with federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) resources and serves households earning up to 80 percent of area median income.
Funding for Senior Housing Projects
The City of Vancouver provides funding to local agencies for affordable housing construction and preservation projects using federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and local Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) resources. Funds may be used to serve households earning up to 50 percent or 60 percent of area median income, and the Affordable Housing Fund in particular targets senior households as a priority population for funding. Recent senior housing projects supported with HOME and AHF include Isabella Court (construction of 49 units; completed in 2016) and Van Vista (preservation of 96 units; to be completed in 2020).
The Vancouver Housing Authority is the largest provider of rent-restricted senior housing in our community. For more information about senior housing available through the VHA, visit vhausa.org.
Housing Options Project
The City of Vancouver is leading a community planning process to explore and expand the range of housing options available to local residents. This initiative is focused on implementing the recommendations of the 2016 Vancouver Affordable Housing Task Force Report and allowing for a broader range of housing choices through new single-family and multi-family zoning districts, cottage cluster housing standards, ADU standards, and micro-apartments that have shared kitchen and common space facilities.
Complete Streets Program
In 2017, the City Council adopted a Complete Streets ordinance that included the following vision and intent: a safe, accessible street system that benefits all users, ages, and abilities, regardless of how they choose to travel; a convenient and interconnected transportation network that improves accessibility to adjacent land uses and fits the dynamics and character of each neighborhood throughout the City; and leveraging local funding for complete streets projects with regional, state, and federal grant funding programs.
Since its implementation, the Complete Streets policy is being realized through:
- The Transportation System Safety Analysis (TSSA), which is the city’s first comprehensive collision analysis and will be integrated into the update of the Transportation System Plan (TSP).
- The McLoughlin Corridor Safety Improvement Project, which includes safety improvements like traffic calming and safer bike and pedestrian facilities throughout the corridor (from Reserve Street to MacArthur Boulevard along McLoughlin Boulevard, Brandt Road between McLoughlin and Mill Plain, and Mill Plain Boulevard between Brandt and MacArthur).
- The Westside Bike Mobility Project analyzing potential north-south bike networks east of Kauffman Avenue and west of I-5, which include improvements that enhance safety for pedestrians, drivers and transit riders as well as cyclists.
- Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) Complete Streets Grant funding that will help fund traffic calming and enhanced pedestrian crossings on McLoughlin Boulevard, Mill Plain and MacArthur intersection safety modifications, and protected bike lanes and enhanced pedestrian crossings on Southeast Tech Center Drive.
The 2018 update to the City’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan establishes a goal to facilitate the creation of 20-minute neighborhoods where residents can walk, bike, or take transit to essential amenities and services. Neighborhood and transportation improvements, as well as amenities and services necessary for aging in place, are prioritized to enhance livability, community connectivity, and accessibility for all residents.
Actions that will result from this process and help to create livable neighborhoods that support aging in place are:
- Restore funding for a Neighborhood Grant Program to support neighborhood improvement projects, including street trees, park improvements, landscaping, interpretive signage, and public art.
- Restore funding for a Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program for projects like ADA ramps, sidewalk infills and repair, and crosswalks.
- Develop a broader range of housing choices through incentives, changes in regulations, and implementation of the Affordable Housing Task Force recommendations.
Senior Citizen and Disabled Person Property Tax Exemption
The Clark County Assessor’s Office administers this exemption program on behalf of the Washington State Department of Revenue to reduce housing cost burden on senior citizens, disabled persons, and veterans. Under the exemption program, a residence’s assessed value is frozen and the qualifying applicant will be exempt from excess and special levies, resulting in a property tax reduction. To qualify for the exemption program in the current year, an individual must have met the applicable qualifications for the previous year. Clark County is currently accepting applications for the 2019 tax year (2018 income year) and prior.
For more information, see Clark County Property Tax Exemption information.
Fifty and Better Programs and Initiatives
Vancouver Parks & Recreation offers a wide variety of activities for older adults and seniors, including social clubs, dances, classes, sports, and day-long or overnight trips. Fifty and Better activities are hosted in dedicated spaces at the Firstenburg and Marshall Community Centers, as well as around the City and across the Pacific Northwest. There are many ways to stay active, get involved in your community, meet new people, and have fun!
The Fifty and Better programs and activities available are:
- Dedicated Spaces for Seniors at the Firstenburg and Marshall Community Centers: The Trapedero at the Firstenburg Community Center hosts a variety of clubs and activities for seniors, and the Leupke Senior Center adjacent to the Marshall Community Center offers a paperback lending library, computer lab, specialty dances, class, and community presentations.
- Fitness Memberships: Through the community centers, SilverSneakers and Silver&Fit memberships are offered in partnerships with select health plans at no additional cost for those who are Medicare-eligible. Over 100 weekly fitness classes are included in a membership, many specifically designed for lower impact. Customer service teams can help answer your questions. For more information and how to contact these facilities, visit www.cityofvancouver.us/parksrecculture/page/community-centers.
- 50+ Travel Program: Since 1971, Parks & Recreation has provided affordable group travel for people over the age of 50. These day-long trips explore attractions, festivals, cultural activities, and destinations near and far with varied levels of difficulty. Trips are planned in advance and escorted by trained volunteers. Read the 50+ Travel Program brochure to learn more, and find a list of upcoming trips on The Messenger’s website.
- 50+ Forever Young Hikers: Hiking trips at varying degrees of difficulty are offered every Monday or Tuesday, and adventure to destinations anywhere from the Columbia River Gorge to the Pacific Ocean. Mondays feature easy hikes while Tuesdays are designated for moderate to difficult all day hikes, and hikers must attend an orientation before registering. Read the Seasonal Forever Young Hikers brochure for more information, register for an upcoming hike orientation, or see the list of upcoming hikes.
To learn more about all of the offerings and resources provided through the Fifty and Better programs, visit our Rec programs page here.