A public forum hosted by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B gave community members a chance to weigh in on what they believe are the biggest issues facing senior citizens in Livingston County.

The “community listening session”, held Wednesday at the Bennett Recreation Center in Howell, was attended by approximately 50 people. The event first gave an overview of the Area Agency, which is a nonprofit organization that serves and supports roughly three-quarters of a million people aged 60 and older in six southeastern Michigan counties, including Livingston. The Agency supports its services through federal, state, and local funding, receiving approximately $2.3 million annually for Livingston County and more than $20 million across the region.

Attendees were then given the opportunity to voice what services they think the Agency should be funding in fiscal years 2020 through 2022. Penny Jones is a Resource Advocate for Livingston County Catholic Charities and attended the forum because LCCC is funded by the Area Agency. She tells WHMI she wanted to let Agency officials know what some of the needs are that the LCCC assists senior citizens with on a daily basis. Jones says a major need is affordable housing, adding that one senior had to leave Livingston and go to Ingham County to stay in a homeless shelter until he was able to get affordable housing in the area. The ordeal lasted a year and a half.

During the session’s group testimony, other attendees noted the need for more affordable services like housekeeping and respite care. Community members also say there is a need for greater connectivity between local senior groups and resources, and additional transportation services. Adam Baranski, Deputy Director of the Livingston Essential Transportation Service (LETS), told guests that they are working to do just that. Baranski shared that LETS will soon be offering their ride services on Sundays.

The Area Agency has been holding the forums in each of the counties it serves. Michael Karson, President and CEO, says his main takeaway from the listening session was that community members have questions that they’re not getting answered, and that the Agency is utilizing the feedback to help them better serve the region.

The Agency has proposed various community, in-home, respite and access services that will be potentially funded in 2020 through 2022. Among those are elder abuse prevention, home repair, household maintenance tasks, volunteer caregiving and disaster advocacy and outreach. Those attending Wednesday’s listening session were able to fill out a survey indicating the priority they believe each of those services has. The survey can also be taken at the link below. (DK)