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Humboldt County supervisors back senior community project – Times-Standard

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The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously signed off on a letter supporting a local nonprofit asking the state for $2.5 million to build a senior living community at their regular meeting on Tuesday.

Life Plan Humboldt plans on building 144 cottages and apartments with assisted living and memory care facilities for people 60 years and older, but is currently seeking state funding to help the project leave the ground. The supervisors voted to agree to offer a letter supporting the nonprofit’s efforts at acquiring state funding.

“There are a number of reasons why we feel that rural adults, older adults are vulnerable. Social isolation has been shown to increase the risk of dementia and depression and if you can’t drive anymore, you really prone to social isolation,” Life Plan Humboldt president Ann Lindsay said at the meeting. “We’ve seen in natural disasters how older adults, particularly those who live alone … it’s harder for them to respond adequately to natural disasters. Nutrition may suffer if preparing food is difficult or getting to the grocery store.”

Lindsay cited the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury report that found Humboldt County’s elder population is going to dramatically increase over the next few decades, and that not everyone has the resources to afford home care. Family caregivers can also compromise their retirement resources, such as social security, by leaving the workforce to take care of an elderly loved one, Lindsay added.

To date, Life Plan Humboldt has not received public funds for the project and the $2.5 million they are requesting from the state would supplement $2 million raised locally from individuals, businesses and foundations — Lindsay said the nonprofit has received just over $1 million in donations so far — to pay for development. Should the state decide to grant the funding request, Life Plan Humboldt can secure $75 million in bond financing, the final stretch to complete the project.

The project aims to have 30 to 60 of the cottages and apartments designated as affordable and Life Plan Humboldt is surveying at least 15 potential properties throughout the county.

“If we’re able to get all that support, it’ll allow us to keep the entry fees in a reasonable range. If we have to borrow $2.5 million, it could raise the entry fees 5% or 10%,” Lindsay said. “We say we’re the little engine that could and we’re gathering steam.”

When completed, the project will have a dining and fitness center, meeting space, picnic areas and trails. It was projected to be a $75 million project that will create 40 full-time jobs and have an operating budget of $4 million a year.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone told Lindsay that he is willing to personally sign a letter in support if they ever need additional help on a time crunch since he represents the part of the county where the facility could be built.

The supervisors generally expressed support for the project, as did the single public commenter who spoke on the matter.

“We give a million dollars to the Crabs baseball, hopefully, we can get $2.5 million for the old folks,” 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn said.

Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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