EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written in response to a reader-submitted question through Open Source, a platform where readers can ask Ashland Source’s newsroom to investigate a question.
ASHLAND -- Apartment-living in Ashland is on the rise.
The upscale apartment complex Latitude 40 Flats opened to renters in June.
At the corner of Fourth and Union streets, a 16-32 unit apartment building is slated to be built, with additional plans to build an “urban meadow” on the nearby field that had formerly been the Pump House building.
A 200-unit apartment complex is planned where the old Hess & Clark building once stood between Orange and Union streets.
The city of Ashland is the tenth cheapest city in the country when it comes to rent, according to the latest Apartment Guide data previously reported by Ashland Source. But, the Latitude 40 apartments are renting for higher than average, which in Ashland is $640, according to Apartment Guide. Comparably, Latitude 40 Flats starts rent at $1,350 for a one-bedroom apartment.
In response to the current boom of apartment construction in the city, a reader asked, “When will there be affordable subsidized housing for seniors?”
There are a few affordable housing complexes for seniors in the county, however the options available have little to no openings as of the beginning of December 2021. Ashland Area Economic Development’s coordinator Aaron Pauly and Ashland mayor Matt Miller both said they are not aware of any plans to build more affordable or subsidized housing for seniors in Ashland right now.
Sandy Enderby, executive director of the Ashland County Council on Aging, told Ashland Source there have been circumstances where seniors need to be placed immediately, yet there is nowhere they can go, other than be placed on a waiting list.
Enderby also sees barriers for seniors to filling out affordable and subsidized housing applications.
“Another issue we find is the applications to these complexes is extensive,” Enderby wrote to Ashland Source. “It is unfortunate that some of our senior community cannot not read or write. We try to assist with filling out the applications and will reach out to local churches or other nonprofit agencies to help the seniors.”
Sometimes added assistance with applications is not enough, Enderby said.
“My best advice would be start planning in the younger years of life,” Enderby wrote. “No one wants to think about getting older, however I like to think of it as thrive not just survive. Have those conversations with your family if you can. Start learning about services that are available in the area and what ages qualify for that service.
“Because if not… then we get those panic calls from our seniors or the senior’s family and we can only assist so much, unfortunately, at that time.”
The affordable housing specifically for seniors in the Ashland-area is provided through several government programs.
Two options are the Good Shepherd Villa and Mill Run Place, which have Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly providing low-income elderly that are at least 62 with housing that allows them to live independently but with support for activities such as cleaning, cooking and transportation.
Qualifying income limits are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and vary by county. In Ashland County, the income limit annually for a one-person household is $23,450 and for a family of four is $33,500.
“Each applicant must undergo a certification process during which we will confirm current income, current assets and any out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred over the past 12 months,” Lutheran Social Services director of communications Jennifer Hamilton wrote to Ashland Source about the Good Shepherd Villa.
“Based on this certification process, rent will be determined at 30% of the adjusted income. Each year, residents must undergo an annual re-certification to reevaluate and adjust the rent.”
The Good Shepherd Villa nor Mill Run Place had openings as of early December, but Hamilton and Mill Run manager Ashiera Brooks said they always accept applications, which will go to the waiting list.
Older adults in Ohio are more likely to face challenges of high housing cost burden, according to an Ohio Housing Needs Assessment from 2020. Specifically, 52% of renters (and 24% of homeowners) ages 65 or older were cost burdened compared with 43% of younger renters and 17% of younger homeowners.
Older adults are also more likely to live with a disability, according to the 2020 assessment, which adds challenges to finding suitable housing. Specifically, one in four adults ages 65 to 74 and almost half of adults 75 and older live with a disability in Ohio.
The Good Shepherd Villa reserves 10% of its apartments for people of any age with a disability. Another housing option that caters more specifically to the needs of anyone, but not specifically seniors, with disabilities is Union Lofts in Ashland, which offers housing through Section 8 as well as five units more specifically for people who have low-incomes and disabilities through Section 811 Project Rental Assistance.
To qualify for Section 811, “tenants must be extremely low-income (at or below 30 percent of Area Median Income) and at least one adult member of the household must have a disability,” according to HUD. All five units Section 811 units and all units available through Section 8 were occupied in early December.
Other senior living options — such as Loudon Bluffs, Ashland Village, Martin House and Ashland Essex House — offer housing through Section 8, which refers to HUD-subsidized housing programs where people pay 30% of their monthly adjusted income as rent. HUD pays the difference between the contract rent and what the renter can afford to pay, based on monthly adjusted income. The landlord receives the difference through a Housing Assistance Payment.
Essex House is only open to heads of households who are 55 and older, said Essex House consultant Lee Bright. There was one apartment available at Essex House as of the beginning of December, out of 45 apartments total, Bright said.
Montgomery Crossing and Lincoln Terrace in Ashland as well as Arlene Apartments in Perrysville offer affordable housing through Section 42, which is also largely based on income, but differs in that those who qualify do not receive a direct subsidy.
Section 42 refers to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, and maximum rent is based on the Area Median Income. Developers receive federal tax credits to acquire, construct and rehabilitate affordable rental housing.
In terms of other housing resources, the Community Housing Improvement Program, better known as C.H.I.P, offers people with low to moderate incomes help with home improvements, said Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction/housing specialist Malinda Freeman.
“In the city of Ashland, we provide home repair for low income homeowners,” Freeman said, "so there's no age restrictions on that.”
The housing options outlined above can be found here:
• Good Shepherd Villa: 726 Center St, Ashland, OH (419-282-9700)
• Mill Run Place: 1715 Richard Dr, Ashland, OH (419-281-8776)
• Martin House: 625 Center St, Ashland, OH (419-281-6721)
• Essex House: 1 East Main St, Ashland, OH (419-281-8230)
• Montgomery Crossing: 1661 Eagle Way STE 1000, Ashland, OH (419-566-1449)
• Lincoln Terrace: 1126 E Main St, Ashland, OH 44805 (419-289-3296)
• Ashland Village: 1517 Cottage St, Ashland, OH (419-289-8784)
• Loudon Bluffs: 803 Co Rd 3A, Loudonville, OH (419-994-3104)
• Arlene Apartments: 170 E. Second Street Perrysville, OH (419-938-5691)
Does your organization offer affordable or subsidized housing for seniors? Reach out email@example.com and we will add your information to the list.