The Area 1 Agency on Aging (A1AA) is hosting a survey to determine the best ways it can help seniors living in Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
Executive Director Maggie Kraft told the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 22 that as the fourth-smallest Area 1 agency of 33 in the state, it has to smartly utilize the funds it receives from the Older Americans Act.
A1AA provides services and information for seniors and people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, friends and neighbors. Its services are broken down into three areas:
— As a funding agency, it awards contracts for nutrition and other supportive services to meet the special needs of a community’s older population.
— As an administrative agency, it monitors, evaluates and documents the performance of every contracted service provider.
— As a planning agency, it gathers information, determines priorities for service, and develops a plan for service to seniors, their caregivers and families.
— As an advocate for seniors, it hosts public hearings, provides information to local and state decisionmakers, and collaborates with other organizations to provide needed assistance to seniors.
The funds, Kraft said, goe to specific areas such as home-delivered meals, information assistance, the ombudsmen program, exercise programs and other services.
Every four years, A1AA updates its area plan, which tells the state and federal government what the money it receives will be used for.
To help direct those funds where their needed, A1AA is hosting the Older Adult Needs and Concerns Survey through Nov. 30. Seniors can take the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/a1aasurvey, request a paper survey from Maren Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-442-3763, ext. 208, or get a copy of the survey at Del Norte Senior Center at 1765 Northcrest Dr.
“It’s really important that we get a good representation here in Del Norte County, because that’s a good way to hear what’s going on here, what the needs are,” Kraft said.
“We hear a lot about homelessness, we know there are issues with housing, issues with housing for seniors, and issues about caregiving.
The survey will help us plan services, improve services, look at future programs, and we’ll also be gathering data to share with the county and cities in terms of what your community looks like in terms of senior numbers.
“And that can be useful when going out looking for grants and other things,” she added.
Kraft said Del Norte County provided extra funding to assist with the survey, which will help with distribution and put in focus a Del Norte snapshot review of the data of the responses it receives.
In addition to conducting the survey, Kraft said the A1AA is tasked with updating its senior information guide every two years. A1AA plans to publish a new one in January 2020 to distribute 2,000 copies throughout the two-county area.
“The guide is actually a hard copy of things that exist online, but we find for many people it’s just easier for them to use a hard copy,” Kraft said. “It has a larger font and has the information people are primarily looking for in topics for seniors. We’re working with the senior center here to gather updates for Del Norte.”
Kraft said A1AA’s next project is Northcoast Homeshare. She said every other year, A1AA receives small amounts of money to do a feasibility study. This year’s plan is to talk to seniors about opening their home to renters.
“We know there are a lot who live in their family homes. It makes no sense to move out of them,” Kraft said.
“One, where are they going to find locally that is going to meet their needs? Two, what would they do with all their stuff? Three, why move out at all?”
Kraft said there is usually extra space available in these homes. But she’s not talking taking in a homeless person with a mental disorder.
“I’m talking about people in their 50s and 60s who are low-income seniors who can’t find a rental unit anymore, an affordable one-bedroom apartment,” Kraft said. “Those people could be great roommates for someone in their 70s and 80s.
“We do have people struggling to survive on Supplemental Security Income with the rising costs of living in California in our rural areas. So, this could be a win-win.”
Kraft said A1AA has created a system to help perspective senior renters to do a background check, provide a support for a match, look at a person’s housing to help determine rent amount, and help with conflict resolution issues.
“We’re writing a grant to get some part-time staff in there help create volunteer corps. We’re modeling our program after Vermont Homeshare, which has been very successful with volunteers. We have to. We can’t afford a full-time person doing this work,” she said.
A1AA will be a hosting a fundraiser to pay for the Northcoast Homeshare program: “Pints for Nonprofits.” The fundraiser is Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to closing at Mad River Brewery. One dollar per pint will go to A1AA earmarked for Northcoast Homeshare.
In other recent city council action, County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina told the supervisors that the administration was approached by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wildlife Conservation Board, which is a funding an acquisition arm of the resources department regarding existing defaulted properties in Del Norte County’s Pacific Shores Subdivision and adjacent area. An additional parcel area was just outside the subdivision that is also in default, Sarina said.
“At this point, I believe there are 26 parcels available that have not paid their taxes, penalties and interest in the last five years,” Sarina told the supervisors. “And what I’m asking for today, after going through all the discussion, would be to give staff direction to proceed with the process of a Chapter 8 agreement and sale with the treasurer/tax collector with the county.”
Sarina said such an action would result in having those parcels available to be sold to the State of California for an appraised price and for a public use.
“That’s the only reason we could do a Chapter 8 acquisition for public use. It’s very similar to the Border Coast Airport Authority negotiation that was done at the airport,” Sarina said.
The supervisors unanimously approved the plan for Sarina and county staff to proceed with the sale.