Senior Voice -

By Dimitra Lavrakas
For Senior Voice 

Senior housing springs up around Alaska

Exploding elderly population spurs development

 

September 1, 2021 | View PDF

Photo courtesy Cassey Bradley-Leonardis/CIHA

The interior and the exterior are under construction at Cook Inlet Housing Authority's Qevu Village, located in south Anchorage just off Huffman Road on the Old Seward Highway.

This story has been updated to correct errors in the earlier version.

Since its inception 47 years ago, Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) has seen the state's elderly population skyrocket. According to CIHA statistics, in 1990, Alaska's overall population stood at 550,000 and the state's median age was 29. Approximately 6 percent of the state's population was over age 60 at the time. Of those, about 1,200 Alaskans were over the age of 85. Some 47 years later, the state population now stands at 731,000; the median age has grown to 36, and the 60 and over population has more than tripled from 1990 to represent 19 percent of the overall population, representing a near 300 percent growth rate over the period.

One of the most helpful of state departments, Alaska Housing Finance Corp., as well as CIHA, offers a helping hand to first-time homeowners, renters and seniors searching for housing.

Over 1,000 senior housing units have been developed by AHFC, and even seniors who want to remain in their homes can with AHFC's funding of design upgrades and accessibility improvements.

But there are more organizations developing senior residences - Catholic Social Services, Covenant House, Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc., AVCP (Assoc. of Village Council Presidents) Regional Housing Authority in the Bethel and Kusilvak Census Areas, Valley Residential Services in Wasilla, Palmer Senior Citizens Center, Weidner Apartments, Abused Women's Aid in Crisis, and more.

Wasilla seniors have choices

Wasilla Area Seniors Housing consists of six housing complexes: Knik Manor, Raven Tree Court, Alder View, Susitna Place, Eagle's Nest, and Blueberry Pointe (in Houston), said Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc. (WASI) Housing Manager Alison Dormer in an email. The five buildings house 128 units for those 62 years or older.

Each building has a common area for congregate games, puzzles, reading or TV. Surrounding the housing complexes are large grassy areas and a picnic pavilion complete with a gas grill and gazebo-covered seating. 

WASI received a grant this summer and used it to purchase and install five new greenhouses and many raised garden beds on both the Wasilla Campus and at Blueberry Pointe.

This fall, they will open their newest apartments at Willow House, a 40-unit building for households 55 or older and include all the amenities of the Wasilla campus. Willow House offers a preference for veterans, and for homeless households. Applications are now being accepted and occupancy is expected to begin this year in late October.

To qualify, only one member of the household must be 55 or older. Applications are now being accepted with occupancy planned for Nov. 1. Thirty units are one-bedroom and 10 units are two-bedroom. There will be lockable, heated storage available in the building for each unit. Major appliances include washers and dryers in each unit. Residents pay their own electric, phone, internet and cable.

One-bedroom rents range from $750 to $950 and two-bedrooms rent from $900 to $1,150, depending on income. Applicants and residents who receive reduced rent based on income must qualify every year. Veterans and the homeless receive preference and documentation is required.

Qualifying annual incomes are: for one person, under $32,100 to $39,900; and for two, $36,650 to $45,600. Low-income rents range from $645 to $955, and market rates are $935 to $1,150, with most rents including heat and electricity, but not internet, telephone or cable TV. Residents at Blueberry Pointe and Willow House pay their own electricity.

Visit https://www.wasillaseniors.com/housing for more information.

Cook Inlet Housing Authority offers Anchorage housing

Qevu Village is Cook Inlet Housing's first housing development to be located in South Anchorage.

Qevu (Keh Vu) is the Upper Dena'ina (Tyonek, Susitna Station, Knik and Eklutna) word meaning colorful sunrise or sunset, and "village" is a naming convention used by CIHA to celebrate "community," the use of "village" also recognizes that in an Alaska Native village everyone has value and everyone is essential.

This senior independent-living apartment building is for persons 55 and older, and has studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms, and an elevator. Its peaceful location offers views of sunrises,

sunsets and alpenglow, and residents will enjoy a variety of colorful and welcoming community spaces to enjoy social time and activities. 

Located just off Huffman Road on the Old Seward Highway, Qevu Village also offers convenient access to grocery, retail, restaurants and medical facilities. The Old Seward Highway is close by for travel north or south, and there are also several nearby neighborhood parks for the enjoyment of all. 

Applications opened up in August with rents from $735 to $1,250. The apartments range from 436 to 795 square feet.

Cook Inlet has constructed a total of 1,708 units - 1,561 in Anchorage, 52 on the Kenai Peninsula, 21 in the Mat-Su Valley, and 74 units are under construction, said CIHA Marketing Coordinator Cassey Bradley-Leonardis in an email. And housing done with community partners number 542.

Every Wednesday, CIHA posts a notice of vacancies at https://www.cookinlethousing.org/ciha-news-events.

To apply go to https://www.cookinlethousing.org/housing/how-to-apply.

A home on the Kenai

Built in 2020, Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiative's Kenai Meadows II Senior Housing in Kenai is a six-unit building for those at least 55 years of age and identical to its Kenai Meadows Phase I.

Designed with two one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units, all have attached heated garages.

These units were designed to promote independent living with each unit incorporating universal design and all units are fully equipped for mobility and sensory impairment, allowing residents to safely age in place. 

Crane Hill Phase II in Homer is a four-unit 3,190-square-foot building currently under development to provide safe, affordable residences to low- income families, defined as earning below 50 to 60 percent of the Area Median Income. The development will consist of two one-bedroom units, two two-bedroom units. Two apartments, one one-bedroom and one two-bedroom, will be equipped for tenants with sensory or mobility impairments.

Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiatives

While not specifically for seniors, Willow Green in Soldotna is an income-restricted eight-plex being developed by Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiatives, Inc. and is about 75 percent complete.

Willow Green Apartments is an eight-unit, 6,000-square-foot building currently under development in Soldotna for low-income families. The development will consist of four one-bedroom units, four two-bedroom units. Two of the one-bedroom apartments will be equipped for tenants with sensory or mobility impairments. Occupancy is expected to begin in early 2022. 

While not strictly for seniors, said KPHI Executive Director Steven L. Rouse, it does have suitable apartments.

"Kenai Peninsula Housing Initiative's has developed independent senior housing in Soldotna, Seward and Kenai that we own and manage," Rouse said in an email. "We have also developed senior housing for others including Ninilchik Traditional Council and Sterling Senior Center. I personally also developed senior/elder housing for Bristol Bay Housing Authority."

For the last 20 years, KPHI has been providing low-income, senior and special needs housing to residents of the Kenai Peninsula. KPHI currently manages more than 100 units of affordable housing in Homer, Seward, Soldotna, Ninilchik, and Kenai.

For vacancies for KPHI's units, go to https://www.kphi.net/vacancies.

 
 

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