Community Care Facilities Ordinance limits shared housing and independent living for seniors

Community Care Facilities Ordinance limits shared housing and independent living for seniors

David Grunwald is President and CEO of Affordable Living for the Aging.

During our worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Los Angeles City Council is poised to adopt a new ordinance that will severely restrict the supply of affordable rental housing and prevent older residents from sharing their homes.

Under the proposed anti-shared housing ordinance, homeowners could no longer rent their homes, guesthouses or rooms to more than one tenant.  The new ordinance will also prevent nonprofit service organizations, like Affordable Living for the Aging, from helping senior clients like Susan Redfern remain in her home of 32 years.  Susan is an 82-year-old widow who owns a three bedroom home in West Hills.  She uses a walker and increasingly needs assistance with daily tasks. Over the past year, she has had several bad falls due to instability. Susan’s savings have been depleted due to unexpected health care costs. She came to ALA seeking live-in help and renter referrals to offset her living expenses.  Susan is asking $500 to rent one bedroom and is offering the other bedroom rent-free in exchange for assistance with cooking and transportation.

Under the proposed ordinance, Susan, and others like her, would be unable to consider shared housing as a means for securing financial stability, companionship and assistance with daily tasks.

For over three decades, ALA has helped thousands of seniors through our home share match program and shared living residences.  At one shared living house, nine tenants occupy a duplex ALA rehabilitated and now manages. Each tenant has a private bedroom and bathroom and shares common space.  Tenants have individual lease agreements with ALA.  Shared housing keeps housing costs low while also offering tenants the option of socialization with fellow housemates.

The demand for affordable housing alternatives, like shared housing, is only going to increase as Baby Boomers retire.  By 2030, it is estimated that as many as three million Southern Californians will exceed the age of 60, doubling the current population.  Up to half of these seniors will live on modest fixed incomes like social security and be unable to sustain high mortgage or rent payments after they retire – shared housing may be their only realistic option.

The current economic crisis warrants creative solutions to meeting our basic needs, not restrictive mandates that limit our options.  Seniors share housing to find companionship, offset housing costs or receive assistance with daily tasks while remaining safe in their own home.  Shared housing promotes socially sustainable communities by compelling people to collaborate to solve problems.  And it provides additional needed resources to homeowners seeking to supplement their income during rough economic times.  Rather than limiting seniors’ options, we encourage the City Council to rethink its anti-shared housing proposal.  The City should encourage shared housing, not prevent it!

To voice your opposition to the Community Care Facilities Ordinance please contact your District Representative.  For a list of Los Angeles Councilmembers click HERE


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