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Eagle County seniors may get more housing options

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Four years ago, housing prices forced Evi Millette to leave her Avon home and move to Glenwood Springs, but now the county’s new senior apartments have allowed her to move back to the valley.

“I love it,” said Millette, 72, of the 1-bedroom home at Eagle’s Seniors on Broadway. “I know it’s renting an apartment, but I really feel like I’m in a townhouse. It’s really top-notch.”

Seniors on Broadway consists of 14 affordable senior apartments and allows people like Millette, who are on fixed incomes but still live independently, to stay in the area.

Now Millette said she can be closer to her children, who live upvalley, and her two grandchildren.

“They can even come and stay with me. It’s only 20 minutes away versus an hour. Before I was driving up from Glenwood often to take care of my grandchildren, and it was quite stressful,” she said.

Eagle County’s commissioners say they want to provide more affordable homes like Seniors on Broadway for the growing elderly population.

Right now, besides Seniors on Broadway, the county has independent living for seniors at the Golden Eagle Apartments. All the homes are affordable rentals.

“There’s a limited demand in Eagle County for assisted living, and it’s going to grow,” County Housing Director Alex Potente said.

The county wants senior living to be part of the ongoing affordable housing conversation. The county has been working on building more affordable neighborhoods like Miller Ranch in Edwards and Stratton Flats in Gypsum, and the idea is to make room for seniors in those neighborhoods.

“We want that kind of model, with seniors mixing in with the young children and the positive energy that comes from that kind of interaction,” County Commissioner Sara Fisher said.

The whole community benefits with seniors in the neighborhood, she said ” seniors can participate in neighborhood events as well as help run day-care centers.

The county also wants to bring more care options into the area, Fisher said.

The goal is to have everything from independent living centers to full-service nursing homes ” something that has been difficult in the past because of high land costs and wages that would have to be paid to nursing home employees.

The county may partner with local hospitals and Colorado Mountain College’s nursing program in Glenwood Springs to provide some of the medical care needed, Fisher said.

That is good news for Millette, who gets around on her own now, but knows that in the future, she may need more care.

“As I grow older, it always been a threat over my head that I would have to go somewhere else where my kids weren’t. If I have problems and the time comes, I would want to stay here if I could,” she said.

Claudia Alexander-Smith, property manager at Golden Eagle, said she thinks there is definitely a need for more senior living options ” all the new homes are leased out, and she has several people on waiting lists.

“The people who built this county are having to leave. We need something affordable for our seniors,” she said.

One longtime resident was unable to find the care she needed after having a stroke and had to move to Carbondale.

“But I know she’ll be back as soon as there is something available,” she said.

Fisher said she hopes the county can provide for those residents in the future.

The county does not have any definite projects in mind, but are looking for land and investment partners, Fisher said.

“There needs to be a continuum of care options, so that people don’t have to leave the valley,” she said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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