June 15, 2016
A growing population in Central Texas has caused an increase in the number of area senior living facilities, but local agencies say more affordable options are still needed.
The population in the Austin-Round Rock metro area grows significantly each year, according to a report by the Capital Area Council of Governments that was released in April. It is pending approval from the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, or DADS, said Jennifer Scott, the director of aging services for CAPCOG.
According to the report, Central Texas has seen a significant increase in the number of residents ages 65-69. Although 37,200 people in that age group lived in the area in 2004, the number increased to 78,676 by 2014, an increase of 111.5 percent.
“Knowing what the population is going to do in the next 15 years, you can make the assumption that there’s not enough [senior housing],” Scott said.
The increased population of older residents has led to a trend in development throughout the area to meet the demand for various types of senior housing.
According to DADS there were 56 assisted-living facilities in Travis County and 30 in Williamson County in May 2012. By May 2016 there were 64 in Travis County and 45 in Williamson County.
Developing senior communities
In Leander, Economic Development Director Mark Willis said senior housing options have been built recently in the area. Skye Luxury Senior Living is expected to open in the summer and will be an age-restricted luxury independent living community for residents age 55 years and older.
Jennifer Slayton, director of sales and marketing, said Skye decided to open in Leander because of the area’s growth rate.
“Austin is growing, so you’re seeing more retirees in the Central Austin area wanting to get on the outskirts a little bit, so Leander is a perfect destination for them,” she said.
In Georgetown, developers are trying to keep up with the demand, including Pulte Homes, the developer of Sun City. The age-restricted community sold 243 homes in 2015 and expects to sell 270 homes in 2016, according to the Sun City Texas Community Association. The community currently has approximately 7,300 homes with plans to have about 10,000 upon build-out.
The Wesleyan at Estrella senior living center in Georgetown is expanding its independent living and assisted-living units by the fall. Georgetown has also added to its senior housing options this year: The Delaney at Georgetown Village, an independent living, assisted-living and memory-care facility, is under construction and will open in August.
Tanner Easley, director of marketing and sales for The Delaney, said they wanted to be able to provide the growing community with a facility that lets residents move into independent living and transfer to assisted-living or memory-care housing if needed.
“We knew that Georgetown would be a great fit for us, for the services that we provide and for the population that Georgetown has,” he said.
He said several plots of land have been rezoned in the past few years to make way for new construction for senior living facilities.
Need for affordability
Several local agencies say the biggest need is for affordable senior housing.
“The top needs in our research say there needs to be more affordable options for all areas,” Scott said.
Joyce Lauck, the executive director with AGE of Central Texas, which provides resources to seniors and caregivers, said the organization refers seniors seeking affordable housing to Foundation Communities, a nonprofit that owns 15 affordable housing properties in Austin.
She said the nonprofit will reach out to AGE when it has an opening, but usually the properties are full.
Lauck said residents with resources find a way to afford their care, but lower-and middle-income residents are typically stuck.
“We are living longer, and we need a really diverse method to serve people. We need upper-end [and] lower-end [senior housing options],” she said. “We need it all.”
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