Yucca Valley, Calif- Louise Ward wanted to live closer to one of her daughters. More important, she wanted a home with security, dignity and access to services often difficult to come by for a senior citizen living alone.
“I get to sleep comfortably at night,” says Louise, one of the first residents to move into the Dumosa Senior Village in Yucca Valley in October 2014. “There is a pretty deep sense of community here, and it feels good. You know you’re not alone unless you want to be alone.”
It’s a stark contrast from Louise’s previous housing in Los Angeles County – “a $900 one-bedroom apartment in a very bad neighborhood. The upkeep of the place was horrible and depressing to look at.”
At the time, it was all she thought she could afford. She heard about Dumosa Senior Village from her daughter, saw it for herself and fell in love. The community features 74 units for residents 55 and older who meet income limits. To qualify, residents must earn less than 55 percent of Area Media Income (AMI). Some units are further restricted to residents earning less than 30 percent, 45 percent and 50 percent of AMI.
Louise, who raised six children before working in school cafeterias and as a teacher’s aide, never earned the kind of income to sustain a comfortable retirement. She is not alone. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), one in seven people 65 and older live below the poverty threshold. Nowhere is that worse than in California, where 21 percent of seniors fall below the SPM.
In Louise’s case, access to basic needs – a bank, a grocery store, the post office – take on an even greater importance because of lack of transportation.
“I don’t drive, but I come here and everything is across the street or nearby,” she says. “Where I lived before, everything was a mile away.”
But it’s the Dumosa community itself that makes the biggest difference.
“Where I used to live, once I’d be approaching my apartment, I’d go, ‘Oh, God,’” she says. “Now I know everybody’s name in my building – even their dogs’ names.”
About National CORE, Hope through Housing Foundation
National Community Renaissance, based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. CORE manages nearly 9,000 affordable, senior and market-rate units in California, Arkansas, Texas and Florida. Over the past two decades, its Hope through Housing subsidiary has provided more than 2 million hours in supportive services to enhance quality of life, including preschool, afterschool, senior wellness and upward mobility programs. For more information on both organizations, please visit www.nationalcore.org.