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United Helpers talks housing with Waddington seniors

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An informational session gauging public interest and input on building residential-style senior housing within the community garnered a mixed response among residents Wednesday.

The Life Enriching Alternative for Families, a branch of United Helpers, hopes to fulfill an unmet need in the north country by building private housing for seniors within their own communities.

About eight residents attended the informational meeting, and listened to representatives from United Helpers present the co-housing concept.

The homes will accommodate six to eight seniors who require or prefer the comfort and safety provided by daily supports and assistance.

The homes will have private bedrooms or suites, private baths and large common areas.

This housing concept, which is fairly new to the region, may be the perfect model for those seeking a noninstitutional alternative for senior living close to family and friends, Maplewood Health Care and Rehabilitation Administrator Kimberly A. McFaddin said.

“It would be an opportunity for residents to live like a family, but have private space, as well,” Ms. McFaddin said. “Residents would also have access to services provided by United Helpers. They would get peace of mind, expertise and healthcare advocacy.”

United Helpers are hoping to build a new residence that is centrally located in the community.

“That would allow residents to get a cup of coffee, walk to church and be near shops on Main Street.”

Housing would cost $2,500 to $3,000 a month, Ms. McFaddin said, but would include “everything but your toothpaste.”

Internet, cable, gardening, mowing, snow plowing, meals and housework would be completed by United Helpers employees.

Some residents like E. Jane Layo and Sandy R. Wright seemed to agree that senior housing was needed in the village, while residents like Gail Hodges questioned whether cohousing was the best option.

“What I see is low-cost housing for senior citizens, but you don’t have a middle structure,” Ms. Hodges said. “You don’t have anything for the middle class who have a little more money to spend but not enough to spend at Partridge Knolls. I’d like to see a place with a little more privacy, like town houses.”

“We know this is not for everybody,” Ms. McFaddin said. “We only need about six or eight people for the plan. But we are open to feedback to see if we can change parts or the entire plan to suit the community.”

Residents completed a questionnaire at the end of the meeting, which United Helpers will use in its research to further develop the plan. Ms. McFaddin said she hopes to visit a few more towns before drawing up final plans and choosing a pilot location for the project.

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