Everyone in our community has one thing in common: we are ALL aging!
We are drawn to live here because of the strong sense of community. This is where we want to age, with friends and family. This is our place and our chosen community.
27% of Chaffee County consists of people 65+. That totals over 5,400 people. This is much larger than the state average of 15%. There are multiple reasons for this, chief among them is that Chaffee is a great place to live and retire. When working-age adults (30-50 years old) move to Chaffee they often bring their parents, who volunteer and keep local businesses thriving. The reverse also happens, when 65+ retirees move here, their adult children often follow and bring needed employment skills. This all provides a stable and dynamic community, a community that continues to grow and age.
The reality is that the population of 65+ in Chaffee will continue to grow. By 2045 we expect 6000 - 7000 65+ individuals. We need to plan accordingly. Chaffee currently has no continuum of care (in particular, no assisted living or memory care) to serve this large and growing population. This has dire consequences for many individuals and families in our community. When assisted living or memory care is needed, people have no choice but to stay in their homes longer than is optimal or they are forced to move out of the county to seek necessary care.
Places to Age is a grassroots non-profit committed to solving this problem and keeping 65+ in our community. It is our Phase I goal to bring an Assisted Living facility with a Memory Care unit to our county. It is also our goal to make these facilities available to all income levels to reflect the diverse economic makeup of our community.
To move our goal forward efficiently, we have established key community partnerships. These partnerships will enable us to access a wide array of funding options, assist in establishing an operator, and help us in the building process. CCCF was the first to officially partner with us. We have also established a working relationship with Chaffee Housing Trust (CHT) while also working alongside Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) and HRRMC. We have the backing and active support of the Chaffee County Health Department along with the Age Strong Coalition. We are in active discussions with various local representatives as our municipalities and the county will undoubtedly be expected to contribute in-kind and financially. However, other sources will likely carry the great majority of this planned project.
The goal of Places to Age is to benefit an extended range of people in our county, not just the 65+. In our research, we found that a rather large number of 65+ people in the county own their own homes. According to the state demographer, that number is over 2,600. Some portions of these homes could potentially be available for conversion to affordable housing when the owners need to move to assisted living or memory care.
Using a land trust model, we could potentially make it easier for a portion of the elderly in the county to sell their homes, while also structuring the purchase as affordable housing for younger members of our community. This is one of the ways we hope to better serve a wider swath of the Chaffee community.
Encouragingly, we have some options for land donations to move this development project forward. We are working hard in researching financing options and looking into many private and public funding possibilities, including grants and state programs. Our non-profit is stepping up to do the job of identifying as many financing options as possible for Assisted Living / Memory Care development here in Chaffee County.
Bottomline, we need community support in every form, from donations and in-kind services to writing letters and grants to move this goal to completion. We would love it if you joined us in this effort.