Coming of Age … Again: How can seniors afford to stay put in Kirkland? | Op-Ed

A Kirkland Senior Council member addresses the city’s housing problem.

  • Sunday, March 11, 2018 2:00pm
  • Opinion

By Jack Staudt

Kirkland Senior Council

The American Association of Retired Persons reports that 90 percent of seniors over 65 are hoping to stay in their current homes for the next five to 10 years. While this dream, often called “aging in place,” can be a reality in many urban cities, the rapid appreciation in home values in Kirkland makes this a challenge.

For many seniors, the expense of maintaining a home makes their dream to age in place difficult. If their income is primarily Social Security and pension, they are on a fixed income and facing rapidly rising inflation in property taxes, utility costs, home maintenance and property insurance driven by rising home values.

In King County, 18 percent of the population is 60 and older, and is projected to jump upward to 25 percent by 2040. The fastest-growing segment of the total population is the “oldest old”—age 85 and older.

According to AARP, one-third of adults between the ages of 54 and 60 spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, while most adults 85 years or older spend more than half of their incomes on housing.

There are options to lower some of the costs offered by both county and city government. King County has two types of property tax relief for seniors 60 and older. Those who qualify can defer payment of a portion of property taxes of the equity in your home.

For details, call the county accessor’s office, 206-296-3920, or go to http://bit.ly/2p2wvAh.

Kirkland offers reduced water, sewer and garbage rates for qualifying low income, single-family residential customers who are 62 years or older.

Contact the Utility Billing Office at (425) 587-3150 (or by email utilitybilling@kirklandwa.gov) for information. Kirkland continues to study housing issues. On March 7, 2017, the city council created a housing strategy advisory group.

In 2017, the city council also created a human services commission to advise the council on matters related to the provision of human services, which includes supporting seniors and issues of affordable housing.

Low income seniors have some affordable options in Kirkland. Imagine Housing has four properties in Kirkland, and two of these are focused on senior housing.

The newest facility is Athene, located in the Totem Lake neighborhood, will provide 91 new studios, one-and-two-bedroom apartments for seniors earning up to 60 percent of area median income. Twenty apartments will be reserved for homeless seniors.

For information on housing and other senior issues, see the “East King County Resource Guide for Older Adults and Their Families” published by the Kirkland Senior Council, the City of Kirkland and Evergreen Health. Pick up a free copy at the Peter Kirk Community Center or view online at www.kirklandwa.gov.

The following US CDC link provides a lot more information on healthy aging: http://bit.ly/2oovwbO

“Coming of Age… Again” is edited by the Kirkland Senior Council, a group the City of Kirkland created in 2001 to advocate for older adults in our community. The council is made up of people living or working in Kirkland who want to help improve and maintain the quality of life for people in Kirkland as they grow older. Membership is open throughout the year.

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