Joann Sullivan on September 19th, 2017

The City of Berkeley is solidly behind the building of ADUs in our city as one way to address our multi-faceted housing crisis.  Most of the new housing built in our city has been created by developers.   ADUs are a grass roots effort to increase the housing supply which will benefit Berkeley homeowners, not the big developers from out of town. ADUs are small, family centered and stabilize neighborhoods. The magic of ADUs is that they are flexible and can be used in many ways at different times to serve the family’s housing needs.

Families with ADUs in their backyards who choose to rent to tenants typically do so at below market rates. Some homeowners build the units to house family members—elderly parents who need some support or young adults not quite ready to get their own places. A caregiver could live in the ADU, enabling the elderly homeowner to age in place in the big house.  Or the homeowner could rent out the ADU, providing income to help with mortgage payments or to pay for a caregiver.

Ben Bartlett, Councilmember for District 3 is hosting an ADU workshop  on September 28 at the South Berkeley Center, 2939 Ellis Street at 6:00 p.m. There will be a panel of experts there who will answer your questions about ADUs and provide valuable information about the process of building an ADU. Additional workshops are being scheduled in other councilmembers’ districts and I will post them as they are announced.

 

Joann Sullivan on August 25th, 2017



 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago, Kerri Moon, President of Retiring Internationally, spoke to our Realtors Resource for Seniors Committee at the Oakland Berkeley Association of Realtors. Kerri is a senior placement specialist who works with seniors and their families to find the most appropriate retirement communities for them as they approach that stage of their life.

Several years ago, she realized that lots of people are not interested in nor can they afford retirement communities in the Bay Area. She started looking for retirement communities in other parts of the world and has made some amazing discoveries.

First, it is much less expensive to retire abroad. Monthly costs range from $765 to $2330 per month and that is for everything.  In-home care is extra and ranges from $4.00-$8.00 per hour.

The most appealing locations for Americans on a budget are those where there is already an ex-pat community. The locations include:

  • Mexico (Lake Chapala region, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Merida, Huatulco Region of Oaxaca)
  • Costa Rica (Lake Arenal region, several coastal towns for different lifestyles desires)
  • Ecuador (Cuenca, Quito, Vilcabamba, Olon)
  • Panama (Panama City, Boquete, Coronado)
  • Portugal (Lisbon, Cascais, Porto, southern coast)
  • Spain (Barcelona area, Valencia, many southern coastal towns)
  • Thailand (Chiang Mai, Koh Lanta)
  • Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Penang)

Kerri is  interested in setting up intentional communities where seniors can have positive aging experiences.  She helps her clients find homes to rent or purchase either alone or together, co-housing communities, independent and assisted living assisted communities (ranging from $800-$2000 per month in Mexico) and tiny house communities.

She organizes several tours every year of retirees looking for housing options in foreign countries.  She also hosts house parties for groups to let them know about housing options in foreign countries.

Contact kerrimoon@retireinternationally.com for more information.  You can also go to her Facebook page to see photos and other information about retiring abroad.

 

Joann Sullivan on July 14th, 2017

Almost every week someone calls me about affordable senior housing. They are usually in a crisis situation and are going to need a new apartment right away, but do not know where to start. Sometimes people get lucky, but generally it is a long process (up to five years) to find and move into affordable senior housing. There are many more people looking for housing than there are units available.

 

The first step is to find out what is available. For both Alameda and Contra Costa County residents, there are directories which lists all of the facilities in the county and the status of the waiting lists. For the Alameda County directory, click here.  For Contra Costa County, click here.

If you live in Berkeley, check out the website for affordable senior housing. This website lists the affordable senior facilities in Berkeley and several of the resources that can help you.

You may also want to check the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda website for information about the HUD facilities and other resources that might be helpful to you.

Finding good affordable senior housing is as time-consuming as a job. EBHO publishes a guidebook for finding affordable housing which is very useful. It gives basic information about the requirements for affordable housing and a comprehensive list of developers and management companies.

Every facility is different with different protocols, application forms and requirements. You will need to contact each one that you are interested in to see if you meet their qualifications. Talk with the staff there, call the management company to find out about waiting lists and potential openings. Write a letter telling them how much you would love to live in their building and why you would be a good resident. Go back often to see if anything has changed. Be sure to let them know if you change addresses so they will know how to get in touch with you if there is an opening. You want them to remember you.  If it were me, I would take a plate of freshly baked cookies to the office staff.

You should keep records of everything you find out so you will know what you have to do to qualify for an apartment.   It is a good idea to set up a binder with tabs for keeping all of your information on each facility. Be organized. Keep a calendar. Keep copies of your applications so you do not have to start over each time you fill out an application. I heard about a group of Berkeley women who started meeting monthly to help each other with the process of finding affordable housing for themselves

Good luck!

Joann Sullivan on June 6th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

On January 1, new state legislation (AB 2299 and SB 1069)went into effect, making it easier for homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on their property. To assist in the rollout of the ADU regulations, newly elected city council member Ben Bartlett formed an ADU Task Force. I am on that task force, as well as other realtors, architects, planners, developers, mortgage specialists and others.

May 31, 2017 was the public kick-off for Berkeley’s ADU campaign. We held a panel discussion at the Oakland Berkeley Association of Realtors which was attended by about 100 realtors. Later that afternoon, a group of us met with the new UC Chancellor and staff from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation to talk about how ADUs could help ease the faculty housing crisis at UC Berkeley.

The new laws require all cities to adopt ADU regulations that are not more restrictive than the state standards. Cities must allow the ADUs “by right” with no public hearing and must issue permits within 120 days if the units meet the new state standards.  Berkeley has adopted new standards based on the state law.

These new standards ease and/or eliminate the need for parking if the ADU meets certain requirements. Cities may specify the size and height of the ADUs. For Berkeley, the maximum size is 750 square feet; for Oakland, 800 square feet.

A third law, AB2406, gives cities the option of creating a “junior accessory dwelling unit.” This is a unit created within the house which has an efficiency kitchen and interior connections to the main house. It does not require a private bathroom.

The goal of the ADU Task Force is for Berkeleyans to create 1700 ADUs by 2020. The new laws will not come close to solving the housing crisis in the Bay Area. They will create options for middle-income renters who do not qualify for market rate apartments or low income housing. They could also help homeowners meet their mortgage payments, seniors stay in their homes with an on-site caregiver and multigenerational families live close, but not too close, to each other.

Joann Sullivan on March 20th, 2017

On Saturday afternoon, I met with a group of Ashby Village members who are interested in where they will spend the next stage of their lives.   As many of you know, Ashby Village is an organization close to my heart. Many years ago, my good friend Judy Boe and I heard of a new organization in Boston called Beacon Hill Village whose purpose was to provide the support that the elderly residents needed to enable them to stay in their homes as they got older. A while later, we joined others in Berkeley, notably Shirley Haberfeld and Pat Sussman (the founding mothers of Ashby Village) in creating this remarkable organization.

The Ashby Village members I met with want to stay in their own homes as long as they can. They are considering expanding or remodeling their homes so they can have family members or caregivers living with them. Many of them are very interested in the new state legislation making it easier for homeowners to build Accessory Dwelling Units in their backyards. They also had questions about retirement communities and want to learn more about the facilities here in the East Bay. We are planning to have an architect with experience in helping homeowners adapt their homes for aging in place and an Eldercare Specialist speak to the group at a later date.

Everybody says they want to age in place, but what they really want is to age in community. Ashby Village is a good community resource, but it is important that people who live alone know their neighbors and have back-up plans in case of a fall or accident.

With a Little Help from our Friends by Beth Baker is a book that I recommended to them (and to everyone I know) about growing older in community. Ms. Baker writes about people all over the country who have identified problems in their living situations and worked to solve them. Many of them came up with very creative solutions, like the residents of Boston who created Beacon Hill Village and launched a movement, those in a senior mobile home park in Redmond, Oregon and the seniors who spend their lives travelling around the country in their RVs who built an assisted living facility in Texas specifically for people who live in RVs.

Many people in my generation do not want to follow their parents into retirement communities. They are genuinely interested in new ways of growing older.   It is a very exciting time for all of us. We are living longer and healthier. Technology offers many opportunities for new ways of living. Exploring housing options for seniors is my favorite subject. I am looking forward to continuing the discussion with Ashby Village over the next few months.

Joann Sullivan on December 1st, 2016

salaburgThis morning I received an email originally published in 2009 about Bay Area architect Susanne Stadler’s work, At Home with Growing Old. She is so knowledgeable and so eloquent about the residential needs of older people throughout the world. She has wonderful ideas for locating and designing senior residences that are meaningful to the community and to the residents. Every month, her organization sponsors forums on the issues of growing older. One month, it is in San Francisco, the next month, it is on the East Bay at Ed Roberts Center.

Click here to read the whole article. To learn more about At Home with GrowingOld(er), click here. You will be glad you did.

 

 

Joann Sullivan on November 21st, 2016

pink shirt and computerThe California Property Tax Postponement Program (PTP) has returned for elderly, blind and disabled California homeowners. This program was suspended by the legislature in 2009 and has been reinstated in 2016.

The interest rate for taxes postponed under PTP is 7% per year. Funding for the program is limited and applications will be processed on a first-come first-served basis. Only current year property taxes are eligible for postponement.

To be eligible for this program, a homeowner must be:

At least 62 years old, blind or disabled

Own and occupy the home as a primary residence

Have a total household income of $35,000 or less

Have at least 40% equity in the property and

Other requirements.

Repayment under the PTP Program becomes due when the homeowner:

Moves or sells the property;

Transfers title;

Defaults on a senior lien;

Refinances;

Dies; or

Chooses to obtain a reverse mortgage.

For more information, go to the State Controller’s website or call them at 800-952-5661.

Joann Sullivan on November 7th, 2016

200572869-011For several years I have been working with TTN-HOME to educate East Bay residents about the whole range of housing options for seniors. During the past two years, it has become apparent to us that shared housing is a very viable option.

Albany Vice Mayor Peggy McQuaid with support from the Diverse Housing Working Group is hosting a program on Shared Housing in Albany.   It will be on Thursday November 17 from 7-9 p.m. in the Council Chambers of Albany City Hall at 1000 San Pablo Avenue.  The purpose is to explore a range of possible options to increase both Albany’s housing stock and improve the residents’ personal housing flexibility. We at TTN-HOME are very excited about the Albany program.

A panel consisting of Loni Gray of ZODwellings, Lilypad Homes and Mary Doleman, an Albany resident who has opened her home to home sharers with talk about their experiences with shared housing and resources that are available to help. Videos from HIP Housing in San Mateo County, a leader in providing creative affordable housing solutions, will be shown.

Why Shared Housing?

Home Sharing is a simple idea: a homeowner offers accommodation to a homesharer in exchange for an agreed level of support in the form of financial exchange, assistance with household tasks, or both.

 The community is also a beneficiary of Home Sharing. Shared living makes efficient use of existing housing stock, helps preserve the fabric of the neighborhood and, in certain cases, helps to lessen the need for costly chore/care services and long term institutional care. A home sharer might be a senior citizen, a person with disabilities, a working professional, someone at-risk of homelessness, a single parent, o r simply a person wishing to share his or her life and home with others. For these people, shared housing offers companionship, affordable housing, security, mutual support and much more.

 Home Sharing programs can offer a more secure alternative to other roommate options. Many programs have staff who are trained to carefully screen each program applicant through interviewing, background checking and personal references.

 From: http://nationalsharedhousing.org

 

Joann Sullivan on November 5th, 2016

I have had such a wonderful response to my last post about Bridge Meadows.  Here is another inspirational article about this wonderful program.

 

Joann Sullivan on November 1st, 2016

Grantmakers in Aging 2015 conference, Oct. 29, 2015. Photo: Jay MallinI went to the Grantmakers in Aging Conference last week in Portland as part of my work for the East Bay Foundation on Aging. I had an absolutely wonderful time learning how people in other parts of the country and Israel are solving the problems of their aging residents. The people in the granting organizations are so committed to serving the needs of their beneficiaries.   It made me feel much better about the future of our country, knowing that some of the best minds in philanthropy are dedicated to improving the lives of elders in their communities.

The lectures were about family caregiving, palliative care, social determinants of health, long term care financing and aging in rural America. Some of the sessions I attended were on using technology to address the needs of older adults and best practices for alleviating social isolation. I was part of a roundtable discussion on aging friendly communities. I learned so much from other people who are working with many of the same types of issues that we have here in Berkeley to become more age friendly. (It was notable that this conference was held in Portland on the tenth anniversary of their becoming the first World Health Organization designated Aging Friendly City in the United States.)

The highlight of the conference was my trip to Bridge Meadows, a unique intergenerational community in North Portland. Its residents are adoptive parents, foster children and low income elders who pay reduced rent in exchange for helping the parents with child care, homework assistance and almost anything else the parents need to support their families.

9984076The children were at school when we were there, but we heard from many of the elders about how their lives had been transformed by being part of this amazing community. A newer resident told about how lonely she was before moving to Bridge Meadows; now she is so involved with the other elders and the families who live there.  One of the elders told about taking her family on a camping vacation in the summer. Another told about her work helping a single mom take care of her children while taking on the responsibilities of a demanding job.

Here is a video that describes how the residents feel about their home at Bridge Meadows.

I am always interested in innovative housing options for seniors and Bridge Meadows is a winner. A group of foster youth who have aged out of foster care will be moving to a residence across the street from Bridge Meadows. There is also a second residence being built in Beaverton, Oregon.