East Lansing Looks Toward More Senior Housing

Baby Boomers aren't babies anymore. And that means the senior housing market is gearing up for an influx of new residents.

"We're trying to prepare ourselves and position ourselves to address this huge age wave," said Kelly Arndt, director of the East Lansing Seniors Program "Longevity is up; fertility is down. So we need to position ourselves now to meet the needs."

The City of East Lansing sent a survey out to around 6,500 senior residents Friday. It asks them to express their preferences on their style of home and amenities desired.

"Seniors are going to be a growing segment of the population and are going to be more involved than ever," said EJ Buss of the Friends of East Lansing Seniors Program. "Therefore they will be a big market for housing in the future. Developers and planners need to know that market."

Arndt says statewide, 12 percent of people are over age 65. In East Lansing, that same age group makes up 17 percent of the population. By 2030, those populations are expected to double. The 85-and-over demographic is expected to quadruple.

East Lansing is preparing because it sees itself as a vibrant, attractive city with a lot of activity.

"I think a lot of people think of an 85 year old as sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair and they are not," said Buss. "They are active and involved and their housing needs change as a result of that."

Plus, Buss said, there's a growing trend of college alumni wanting to return to their old stomping grounds. Arndt says it's part of an increasing desire for people to age in one place.

The surveys are due September 10 at which point the city will analyze the data. It will then try to apply it to the city's comprehensive plan, also in development this year.

A $5,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development paid for the surveys.

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