Plans by a group of 10 Catholic churches to establish group homes for the elderly were enthusiasticlly received recently by nearly 30 senior citizens from Upper Cardozo at a seminar on services for the elderly.
Elizabeth Fox, a member of the church group known as the Christian Communities Committed to Change, (or the Four-C's), said the proposal includes six homes that would each house three to eight people.
The homes would not be nursing homes, Fox said, but shelters providing meals, transportation, recreation and other services to elderly people who could not afford, or did not want, to live alone.
Fox said the concept is still in the planning stages and no target date has been set to open the homes. Persons attending the seminar, however, were invited to take part in a survey that would help determine how the homes should be developed.
"I think it's great," said one elderly woman who asked to take the survey. "I'm a window. I have an apartment by myself and I don't like to live alone. It's hard to get into senior citizen housing."
Fox said the Department of Housing and Community Development's current waiting list for senior citizen housing contains names of persons whose applications date back to 1975.
Roy Ross, zoning officer for the D.C. Office of planning and Development, said forthcoming zoning amendments will regulate group home development in the city. The D.C. Zoning Commission is expected to act on the amendments in April.
While the proposed zoning changes do not directly affect senior citizen group homes, Ross said a proposed zoning change that would require the Board of Zoning Adustment to approve new group homes for ex-offiders would ease the fears of elderly residents and others about haveing the homes located near them.
Currently, there are no restrictions limiting how close one group home can be to another home.
Reginald green, housing department officer with the 14th Street Project Area Committee, said the city has embarked on a multifaceted program to meet elderly housing needs through rehabilitation loan programs more subsidized housing units, tax write-offs and renovation of the department's senior citizen housing projects.
Under the current loan program, Green said, senior citizens can receive interest-free, deferred rehabilitation loans and low-interest loans from city and federal sources or federal community development grant funds to help maintain their homes.
Plans to provide special tax write-offs for the elderly are currently being discussed, he said.
By May, Green said, the department plans to begin construction on a 175-unit housing project for elderly tenants at Harvard and 14th street NW. Under the subsidized program, no tenant will pay more than 25 percent of his "monthly adjusted income" for an apartment, Green said.
Green said the department also plans to renovate existing senior citizen projects and develop housing field offices throughout the city.