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March 2013 PSNA Minutes

Agenda

  • Aging in Place
  • City Council Race
  • City Working Groups
  • Ears to the Ground
  • Spring Cleanup

Aging in Place

Intern and graduate student Ellen Kokinda and Stuart Dash from the Community Development Department reported on the findings of the Silver Ribbon Commission, which has been gathering information about characteristics of the population 65+ and older the need for housing and services that would support them in staying in the community, either in their own homes or in other housing arrangements.

Some interesting statistics: 42% of this population lives alone; two-thirds of it is female. Median income for all households is around $50,000, but considerably lower for that 42% -- $36,000 for men, and $19,000 for women. Existing housing options range from living independently to various forms of shared housing (roommates, co-housing, rooms or apartments with lowered rent in exchange for various forms of assistance) to assisted living.

The commission identified 10 principles of housing design that support a healthy, aging population: 1) affordable across a range of incomes, 2) location close to retail and cultural centers and services, 3) universal design (e.g., kitchens, bathrooms, entrances and such that work for people with and without wheelchairs or assistive equipment, 4) sustainability, 5) support technology, 6) mix of public and private investments, 7) integrated services, 8) small-scale long-term care, 9) permitting or promoting a mix of ages and populations, and 10) engagement with community.

The commission made these recommendations: 1) Integrate the design principles into the community, 2) review zoning options, 3) promote universal design, 4) strengthen links between city departments and nonprofits, 5) conduct a survey of Cambridge baby boomers and seniors, and 6) research the demand for a shared housing pilot project.

A survey of housing preferences, interest in intergenerational housing, and support for independent living at home will be available on the city website sometime next month. If you want to sign up for it, do so at www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Planning/Aging.aspx.

Many points were made in the lively and interesting discussion that interrupted the presentation, but two are worth noting here. First, a large percentage of this population has not done much to investigate possible housing options and needs for services on the assumption that they will stay right where they are, as they are. Second, an equally large percentage doesn’t even want to think about it.

City Council Race

Marc McGovern, who currently serves on the school committee, introduced himself and discussed his reasons for running for the city council. In the conversation that followed, we picked the brains of the other elected officials who attended to get ideas for a format for a candidates night in the fall. Alice Wolf agreed to moderate if this project goes forward.

City Working Groups

Stuart Dash mentioned that the city will be forming workgroups on two issues: dog parks and public toilets. If you want to be considered for an appointment to either one, drop a note to the city manager. These groups will be formed sometime this year, but it’s not clear exactly when.

Ears to the Ground

John Howard attended the public review for the new building at 18 White St. The architectural drawings show desirable but minor improvements to last summer's proposal. The parking is still at grade under the building, but is much better screened, and the materials are less reflective. Thus it no longer looks like a smaller version of the glass building at Mass Ave and Beech Street.

Spring Cleanup

We also mentioned planning a spring cleanup. Given the persistent arrival of snow, we’re looking at May.