The tightening budget in Plano is not without its casualties, one of which was scheduled to be the Senior Rides program -- but an agreement between the city and DART will spare it for at least another two years.
Because DART service does not flow extensively through Plano, especially its northwest reaches, the agency has agreed to fund the program at $50,000 per year for the next two years, or until the northwest Plano park-and-ride station is operational.
The program has offered taxi vouchers and mile reimbursement as part of its services since its inaugural year in 2008.
Lee Stark, the transportation coordinator at the Geriatric Wellness Center of Collin County, said the change to two years -- board members requested to fund the program for an initial year from the proposed one-year agreement -- helps give the program stability.
“We’re not expecting there to be significant change in terms of what the client deals with,” he said. “It marries the two agencies a lot more in terms of looking directly at the issues of senior transportation.”
Todd Plesko, DART vice president of planning and development, said until the agency can bring more coverage to that area of Plano, funding the program is a good option.
However, Vice Chairwoman of the planning committee Pamela Gates said she does not want other member cities to believe the funding is a pilot program and available to all.
Because Plano is in a different situation than member cities, it is a one-time funding agreement, she said.
Stark said despite spending just over $50,000 in 2009 and estimating the cost of the program at more than $70,000 in 2010, administrative cuts should keep the program under the $50,000 budget.
The program originally was going to cut the mile reimbursement program as part of those cuts, but as of the planning committee meeting, that part of the program still was in the plans.
Stark said the Geriatric Wellness Center is going to absorb some costs, and marketing also is going to take a cut, because the program already is almost at capacity with about 90 clients.
He said when the funding is cut off in two years, he believes not only will Plano have a park-and-ride station in the northwest area of the city, but DART and Plano will have come up with a Mobility Management Plan, which DART is working on courtesy of a United We Ride grant.
According to a presentation by DART Innovative Services Project Manager Daniel Dickerson, eligible seniors 65 years old or older can purchase discounted taxi vouchers at $25 for a $100 voucher or have mileage reimbursed at 50 cents per mile.
Plano still will be charged with running the program with funding from DART...
As aging baby boomers head to suburbs, Collin County to feel impact
Saturday, July 24, 2010
By JESSICA MEYERS / The Dallas Morning News
Tim Montgomery built his own retirement home.
In a land of McMansions, he limited his Celina house to one story. He widened bathroom doors to fit wheelchairs. He planned a spare bedroom for elderly parents. He designed his kitchen table to hold at least eight hungry grandchildren.
An Air Force vet turned teacher, the 54-year-old settled in Frisco a decade ago among other young working parents and their school-age children. Now these empty nesters and retired homeowners are uprooting the suburban stereotype.
Affordable living, jobs and a Sun Belt climate have made Texas one of the most attractive states for baby boomers. As America's "first suburban generation" ages, cities are scrambling to accommodate them.
Collin County will feel one of the greatest effects in the region, with its senior population more than doubling in the next decade. But the county – known for its youth rather than its elderly – already struggles with transportation, health care and affordable housing for its seniors. Cities that fail to reshuffle priorities, experts say, face strapped social services, budget pitfalls, disgruntled residents and tarnished images.
"For the most part, communities are not planning as well as they should be," said Doni Van Ryswyk, aging program manager at the North Central Texas Council of Governments' Area Agency on Aging. "There's a whole host of challenges in terms of infrastructure, livable communities and adequate transportation providers for people who are no longer able to drive.
"Even though Collin and Denton counties are relatively wealthy, there are portions that are already designated health professional shortages. That's only going to get worse as the population ages."
Unlike their Florida-bound parents, this generation doesn't want to move. Many deal with their own graying relatives and plan to work for years to come. Demographers have coined a term for this behavior: aging in place.
"[Leaving] would take me away from sons and grandsons," said 63-year-old Susie Reukema, a social worker who moved to Plano from Wisconsin three decades ago. "And at this point in life, family is a very big plus in the community."
Texas a hot spot
Such communities developed in Texas faster than anywhere else this decade. The Austin suburbs saw the highest growth rate in people 45 and older from 2000 to 2008, according to a recent Brookings report on the state of metropolitan America. The suburbs of three other Texas cities made the top 10, including Dallas'.
"Texas is a peek at the future of the suburbs," said William Frey, who wrote the report's section on aging. Most senior growth in the coming years will take place in bedroom communities, he said. Young minority and immigrant families may help offset the state's graying suburbs, but that won't happen for years to come.
Baby boomers, Frey said, "are people who are going to need social services at various times, and if it doesn't happen it will spill over to the image of the suburbs and quality of life."
He said, "One thing about the baby boomers and elderly is that they vote in large numbers and make their views known very loudly."
The number of Collin County residents 60 and older will increase by 118 percent between 2011 and 2020, estimates the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Dallas County's will move up 25 percent.
Plano already sees this shift in wait lists for subsidized senior housing and complaints about limited Medicaid providers. With a visibly aging population, it has taken the most focused approach to the impending growth. Officials charted a plan three years ago to provide taxi vouchers for senior citizens and match them with requested services.
"We were looking at it in the context of Plano in a period of transition," said Kate Perry, the city's senior planner. "It used to be the city had only families and young children. That changed and continues to change, and a major component is seniors."
Much of the region has yet to catch up, said Lee Stark, transportation services director at the Geriatric Wellness Center of Collin County. "Folks at the county level are really more concerned with addressing the needs of a growing county," he said.
Developing communities like Frisco and Allen have made some provisions for seniors, Stark said, but affordable housing and convenient transportation remain less of a priority.
John Lettelleir, Frisco's director of development services, said the city has anticipated its aging boomers. Frisco's senior center is in walking distance of the downtown square, near residences and restaurants.
"It wasn't big until two years ago, and then people started to panic," he said about the aging boomers. "Now it's happening and we have to do something about it."
Lettelleir said city officials want to update zoning ordinances to allow for flexibility in housing developments. This way, he said, empty nesters can relocate to apartments down the block or grandparents can settle in duplexes up the street.
But wary developers make such transitions challenging, he said. "They say, 'Change is good. You first.' "
Most cities realize they must address this shift, said Karen Walz, project manager for Vision North Texas, a public-private partnership that plans for the region's future. They're talking about mixed-use developments or revitalizing areas so they're in walking distance of amenities. They're considering transit options and weighing housing costs.
"Right now there isn't a regionwide plan to say 'how are we going to deal with that,' but a recognition that cities need to be thinking differently," she said.
They need to do it quickly.
read the rest of this article at The Dallas Morning News....
DALLAS - The state is playing hard ball with an elderly couple who claims they are being held against their will. Michael and Jean Kidd just want to get out of the nursing home and back into their house but Fox 4 has learned the home may not be around if the state follows through with its plan.
“I just want to go home and I have made it very clear,” said Michael Kidd.
Michael and Jean Kidd say they have been held against their will for month s in a Pilot Point Nursing Home.
“We watch television almost constantly, almost 24 hours a day because if you turn it off, the silence will drive you up the wall,” Kidd explained.
The Kidds lost their freedom and now it appears they may lose their greatest asset, their home. A trustee’s deed filed in mid August shows the Kidd’s Richardson home is scheduled to be auctioned Tuesday.
“I could not believe that what I was seeing was taking place in this country,” said Senator Jane Nelson.
Nelson heads the committee that oversees the Department of Aging and Disability. That agency is now the Kidd’s guardian.
The state determined the Richardson couple was incapacitated or unable to care for themselves after Michael went to the hospital with a broken hip. Jean suffers from memory loss. The state took over all of their finances and placed them in a nursing home.
“I think we have way overstepped our bounds,” said Senator Nelson. Nelson says she was appalled to see how the state is taking care of the Kidd’s home. The power was shut off, leaving a mess in the kitchen. There is a broken window and the yard is overgrown. And now the state is trying to unload their neglected house for $156,000.00.
Collin County appraised the home this year for $191,000.00
“This whole thing is completely botched by the state of Texas,” said Harold Willis. Willis is a gerontologist and a registered private guardian. His is an advocate of keeping the elderly in their homes with assistance, instead of an expensive nursing home. He says, based on his experience, there were many options the state should have considered.
“They were not just mumbling and drooling on themselves,” Willis said. “They were expressing themselves very clearly and their wishes should be honored,” he said.
Both Willis and Nelson questioned how the Kidds are getting Medicaid assistance when they have assets, income and a home. The state has refused to release any financial records to the Kidds or to us about their money.
Probate Judge Weldon Copeland will not comment about the Kidd’s case but we know he approved the appointment of a financial guardian, Michael Taylor of Greenville, Texas. The state confirms Taylor is not a registered guardian in Texas.
“How can the state have that much power?” Reporter Becky Oliver asked Senator Nelson.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Nelson said. “But I will find out how in the world our state can justify doing some of these things,” Nelson promised.
Late Monday, two attorneys were working to get a petition for a temporary restraining order filed with the Probate Court to stop the sale of the house.