Options for Senior Living:
no single solution is right for everyone
As we age, the living option that works for, say someone living in a single story house in a neighborhood with family help nearby,
is certainly different from the person who lives far out of town with no close family.
Only you know what seems right for your situation.
So now is a good time to talk about your choices with friends and family.
Stay in your own home — If you are a renter, you hope your home stays available and affordable. If you are a homeowner you will pay for taxes, maintenance, insurance, utilities etc.
Since most people’s biggest source of funds is tied up in their homes paying for care can be difficult. If you need help to stay in your home, you organize family and friends to show up, or pay people to help. If you are unable to manage that flow of support, you must have someone you trust arrange for your care.
Don’t ignore the frailties of aging, including diminished mental capacity. A 24-hour in-home caregiver is estimated at $30,000 a month ($7,500 per week). If you get a relative to care for you, they must often forego earning a living and also lose out on their social security benefits.
Move in with relatives — recognize they will be offering time and energy to help you, and this will have an impact on them. Consider paying part of the costs of food and rent. Even with all the love they have for you this will affect their lives.
Find affordable senior housing — to see if you qualify for assistance check with the Housing Authority of Eureka and Humboldt County. www.eurekahumboldtha.org. Affordable housing does not offer caregiving to residents.
Downsize and move to a 55+ senior community — sell your house and buy a smaller place and pay Home Owner Association fees. The single-story homes are structurally set up for older people. Some places (not in Humboldt) have restaurants, tennis courts and swimming pools, but no caregiving is part of this deal.
Go into Assisted Living — This is like renting an apartment with a meal plan. Beyond basic help, caregiving is available at additional charge. Rates start around $2000 to $4,000 a month.
Skilled Nursing Facility — about $10,000 monthly locally. If required by doctor’s orders, Medicare will pay, but for no more than 100 days following hospitalization. If you need Skilled Nursing year-round you will pay out of pocket. Once you spend down savings you qualify for Medi-Cal.
Life Plan Communities (like Life Plan Humboldt) — Once known as Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) these are for active older adults in a socially vibrant setting. To move into an independent home with assisted living and memory care support available, you pay an entry fee. A monthly fee covers flexible meal credits and all the costs of utilities, maintenance, activities, and staffing. You do not pay property taxes or homeowner insurance.
Joining a life plan community like Life Plan Humboldt is a big step. There are no life plan communities within 200 miles, so this option may not have come up when considering your future needs. We can and will have that choice here.
• You will live in a vibrant community, where your mind is stimulated, your contribution valued, and your wellness attended to regardless of the course your health takes. You will have time and opportunities to pursue special interests.
• You can trade the hassles of home ownership for a secure accessible home and maintenance-free lifestyle. If your faucet drips or toilet won’t flush, call maintenance. Landscaping with walking and biking trails are maintained.
• You will avoid the isolation that happens as driving becomes more challenging.
• Should your health change and you, or your partner, need additional support, you will have that onsite within the community of Life Plan Humboldt.
• The time your family spends with you can be spent enjoyably, not taken up with home maintenance or care details.
• Life plan communities can help preserve assets for your heirs. There is an entry fee option that is often up to 80% refundable to your estate. And your family will be spared sudden huge expenses for home maintenance or personal care in the future.
In 2020 a grassroots movement began to plan and build the first resident-led, not-for-profit life plan community for active older adults in Humboldt County. There are no communities like this within 200 miles.
• LPH is planning 144 independent apartments and cottages, assisted living, and supportive memory care. Residents will “live well” with help available if needed, and will not need to move if they or their partners need increased care.
• The LPH community will encourage a healthy lifestyle that bolsters brain health and independence with socialization, intellectual stimulation, and community involvement.
• LPH will be available to local middle-income seniors. There is a one-time entry fee, and a monthly fee which covers a meal plan, maintenance, utilities and activities.
• LPH will have paid professional staff managing operations, but our community will be a place where YOU take part and contribute your skills and energy to make LPH a great place to live. Many of the community’s activities and social events will be planned by residents. Humboldt people are “roll up your sleeves” folks and we understand how to support each other to help a place be a better home.
• LPH will work with a separate nonprofit to build 30 to 60 affordable rental residences for older adults on the LPH campus.
• LPH is being advised by an experienced senior housing and life plan development company, Greenbrier (www.greenbrierdevelopment.com)
• LPH has been invited to affiliate with a national life plan organization. Kendal’s well-respected life plan communities are based on Quaker values (www.kendal.org). We are a Kendal community in development.
Life plan fee structures vary, but people join these communities by paying an entry fee along with monthly payments. When two people share a space, there is a fractional increase in the fees.
• Entry fees and monthly payments are based on the size of the residence and any additional services a resident might require. In order to provide options for various income levels there will be a mix of sizes and types of apartments, quadplexes, and cottages.
• Most people who have owned a home can afford to live in a life plan community. The average school teacher, postal worker, or mid-level professional can generally afford this option for active living.
• We want LPH to be available to middle-income local seniors. The equity in your current home can be used to pay the one-time entry fee (by selling or perhaps taking out a second mortgage). The goal is to have the entry fee closely match local real estate values.
• Monthly fees generally cover:
• Flexible dining plan
• Regular housekeeping
• 24-hour security
• Interior and exterior maintenance
• Cable and internet
• Access to all community amenities
• Lawn care/landscaping
• Calendar of cultural, educational, social, and wellness events
• Older, established life plan communities without the burden of new construction sometimes have lower fees, so we have always encouraged people to explore other places if they like the life plan concept. LPH entry fees are necessary to cover the
amortization of the bond payments and to stabilize the community financially.
• Projected pricing and home layouts are available at the “Move In Survey” at lifeplanhumboldt.org.
• In 2024 LPH will open a Welcome Center in McKinleyville that will have trained professionals who can review your options and help you find your best solution.
• For general information on pricing of life plan communities (continuing care retirement communities) go to https://mylifesite.net/learn-ccrc-details.
Most people will be able to get support in their own home if they have minor health or memory issues. An additional fee will be charged. Should the resident require higher level assisted living services, such as regular care at night, they may need to move into our memory care where a home-like environment will maximize the remaining strengths of those with dementia.
Based on the pioneering model of care from the Green House Project, these homes will be small-scale, self-contained, and self-sufficient. They will have private rooms and bathrooms for each resident. The open-space design combines a living room, a kitchen where meals are prepared, a family-style dining table, and fenced outdoor spaces that are easy to access and navigate.
Some “Life CARE” communities charge upfront for guaranteed care whether you need it or not, so those communities have higher entry and monthly fees. LPH will charge only if additional care is needed, helping keep prices lower for the majority of the community.
In the next few months Life Plan Humboldt will apply to California Department of Social Services for approval to create the First Residents List escrow account. After that, applications will be emailed first to all people who have volunteered or made a donation, then posted in the newsletter and website.
• With a $1,000 fully refundable deposit, list members will be invited to special “get to know your future neighbor” events, and will be the first to see the final design of the campus. Deposits will be held in an escrow account in your name.
• As a Future Residents List member, you will be one of the first to reserve the residence of your choice. What if I’m not ready to move? — If your name comes up on the waiting list and you are not ready you won’t lose your place. When openings come up you will be notified.
• Moving into a different unit after living at LPH will also be possible.
Development of affordable housing (AH) is a very specialized area with many requirements for state, federal, or foundation funding.
LPH is working with the nonprofit Rural Community Housing Development Corporation (www.rchdc.org) to build and manage 30 to 60 affordable senior housing units on the same campus. Before LPH construction starts, a lot split will create a parcel on the LPH campus for the affordable housing. The buildings will be blended into the community.
All of the on-campus walking trails, gardens, activities, art studios, and entertainment events will be available to everyone living in the community. LPH is committed to making our community as inclusive as possible.
Define affordable eligibility
Local Affordable Housing agencies have complex questionnaires to determine eligibility, and there is no simple answer. Income eligibility is also affected by where the funding sources come from, Federal , State, or foundations. A broad rule of thumb is someone with gross income not more than 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) qualifies. Based on that, in Humboldt one person with an income not more than $24,500 may be eligible. For two people it is $28,000 annual income. We don’t yet know the eligibility criteria for our project.
What about supportive services for affordable housing folks?
For memory care and assisted living support lower income folks qualify for PACE, IHHS caregivers (if available) and hospice services.
When will the Affordable Senior Housing list start?
The nonprofit developing the affordable senior housing will be responsible for when the affordable housing list starts. Keep reading the LPH newsletter to get updates on the list opening.
LPH is grassroots driven and over 70 volunteers have added their skills and energy to the project at all levels. Ann Lindsay, MD, is the visionary who pulled together a hard-working board of directors with local knowledge and experience. Most volunteers have either been caregivers or worked in the medical field and know the realities of aging in America.
Ann Lindsay, MD, Pres., Humboldt County Public Health Officer and family practitioner
Pat Girczyc, V.P., nursing educator and administrator
Marc Chaton, Treas., IT career and former business owner
George Williamson, Sec., land use and community development (Planwest Partners, Inc.)
Kirk Girard, County Planning Director (Civil Engineer, affordable housing, climate mitigation)
Joyce Hayes, Senior Resource Center ED (PACE program, Alzheimer’s support, senior nutrition)
Patrick Cleary, Humboldt Area Foundation ED and financial management positions
Greg Orsini, McKinleyville Community Services District (water and wastewater expertise)
Patty Berg, California State Assembly Member and Area 1 Agency on Aging ED
JoAnn Schuch, community activist for senior issues, founder of Redwood Coast Village
Greenbrier Development, a national life plan community developer has been advising since 2020.
Kendal Corporation, a national network of life plan communities, has been advising since early 2023.
Perkins-Eastman, an architectural firm with extensive experience in life plan communities was hired in late 2023.
Once 70% of the 144 homes are pre-sold with down payments of 10% of the entry fee, we will secure bond financing of around $100 million for construction and to complete the project.
A construction bond is essentially a loan of money that we will repay over 30 years. Yields on the bonds for projects like ours are tax-exempt, and private investment firms like Vanguard and Pioneer buy and hold the paper for their mutual fund portfolios. Bondholders keep a close watch on projects they have invested in, and this oversight will benefit LPH.
• $2.5 million has already been raised from individuals, businesses, foundations and a state budget allocation to pay for pre-financing development costs including property payments, permits and licenses, architectural fees, civil engineering, and marketing.
• In the next few years we will raise an additional $4.5 million in donations and grants, as well as short-term loans. The lower the amount of borrowing costs and bond debt, the lower the entry fees can be.
• LPH will provide seniors secure, accessible homes with support as they age.
• LPH will help support families, providing experienced care for older relatives
• LPH will give seniors a choice. Longtime Humboldt residents who have contributed significantly to the economy, arts, and politics of the county have moved elsewhere in order to reside in a life plan community.
• LPH will increase housing availability as LPH residents downsize from single family homes. Housing for all ages has been identified as the number one goal in the 2021 State of California’s first Master Plan for Aging. The Humboldt County Housing Plan has identified housing for elders as the number one challenge for the county in coming years.
• Forty to sixty full time jobs will be created — in administration, wellness, memory support, dining services, maintenance, housekeeping, and transportation — with a payroll over $2 million.
• With leadership from the LPH project, the Rural Community Housing Development Corporation will be enabled to build 30 to 60 affordable senior housing units on the same campus. All of the on-campus walking trails and gardens, ctivities, art studios, and entertainment events will be available to all people living in the community. LPH is committed to making our community as inclusive as possible.
• Life Plan Humboldt will model best practices and innovative memory care and brain health for all seniors, and will be an example for other senior facilities in the county.
• LPH will integrate with the broader community rather than duplicating amenities and services on our campus. We will partner with Cal Poly and CR students, and are exploring other community partnerships.
All deposits for the Future Residents List or the 10% down payments are refundable and will be held in escrow accounts in the name and in control of future residents.
There are 5 levels of financial security associated with LPH:
• Our local board of directors
• Two market studies show the feasibility of the project
• An experienced development team (Kendal partnering with Greenbriar, architects, engineers, and project manager)
• CA State Regulatory System
• Bondholders who will continue to scrutinize the entire project.
LPH will help residents negotiate the medical system. We are working with local providers on ways to assure access to primary care health. We are planning to assist with video visits and facilitate coordination for specialty care both in Humboldt County and out of the area – so that care is timely, communication smooth, and travel and accommodations as comfortable as possible. Many LPH supporters are retired medical providers working on these issues.
Can you customize units? Yes! Usually residents can choose paint colors, flooring options, and things like countertop materials. If you want a special upgrade it can be done, but at your cost.
Are pets allowed? Typically in life plan communities, pets are allowed. We will rely on Kendal’s experience to establish fair rules for everyone.
Will there be some areas without pets? There must be some non-pet areas for people with allergies or who want to avoid pets.
Will Humboldt residents have priority? This is something we will discuss with the Future Residents folks and Kendal.
Will there be additional storage areas available? Usually yes. This will be discussed with our architects and Kendal.
How many parking spaces will there be? Parking spaces are guided by county zoning.
What about transportation if you don’t have a car? Group or individual transportation will be provided, and perhaps we can have cars to reserve. The McKinleyville site has many amenities that are a short, easy walk away.
Will there be visitor accommodations? Most life plan communities have guest apartments that can be reserved.
Can my children move into my place as my caregivers? All residents must be 55+ and pay their part of the entry and monthly fees.
Will cottages have private outdoor spaces to entertain? Yes!
Can we buy now, rent it, and move in when we need it? No! We are building a community with stable occupancy.
Will there be a residents’ association? YES! Professional staff will manage LPH, but there will be many resident-led committees to decide some policies, and also to organize activities. Residents will also sit on the board of directors.
How does the meal plan work? Typically residents receive a number of points to use each month to choose from a selection of food options. LPH’s Move-In Survey responses have asked for a a casual restaurant on campus, as well as a to-go deli/grocery/bakery option. Every residence has a full kitchen.
What is the planned memory support capacity? 12 to 24 rooms, to be determined
How will I downsize? Start by putting a box in your garage or closet. Anything you are ready to let go of goes in the box. In the future LPH ambassadors could periodically pick up your stuff and run a yard sale. Proceeds will go toward supporting the community. Downsizing guidance and referrals to professional experts will be provided by Welcome Center staff.
What kind of moving-in assistance will there be? There are local businesses available to help you pack and move. The Welcome Center will help you schedule your move to LPH.
What if I want to leave my house to my children? The Welcome Center sales office in McKinleyville will be able to help you consider your options for renting your home so it provides income but stays in the family.
What will the fee schedule be? The pricing for Life Plan Humboldt won’t be settled for several more months after the exact number of units and cost of construction is known.
Does the affordable senior housing on campus contribute to LPH costs? No!
• Tell your friends and families, both near and far, about Life Plan Humboldt. We need donations and support from the families of older adults.
• Volunteer your skills, or become an LPH Ambassador.
• Solicit support from local businesses or foundations you know.
• There are many ways to make donations, check out the DONATE page on our website.