Another six-unit housing complex, the fourth to be built by the Houston Retirement Senior Society, is set to take shape next year at the society’s Pleasant Valley Village property on 11th St.
“We have budgeted $700,000 for the next building and we have funding available but hopefully will receive some more donations and grants,” says society president Arnold Amonson.
In keeping with the design of the existing units, there are to be four two-bedroom and two two-bedroom units. Each is to be around 800 square feet and there will be a large common room.
All units are rentals and are built to be accessible for people with physical limitations using walkers or wheelchairs so that there are no steps and doorways are wider.
“Our building costs have been less than half of normal costs due to extensive volunteer labour, donated machinery and some donated materials. We hired a very talented carpenter for all three buildings and he was great with supervising all the volunteers,” Amonson said of the society’s existing units.
The impetus for local seniors housing dates back 20 years ago when a group of people gathered to address a shortage of seniors housing in the community.
“At first we were wanting to provide seniors care, assisted living and residential. We discovered that the only thing we could do without joining with government was residential,” said Amonson.
“We didn’t go with the government because we would lose all decision making and it would become a government project.”
A series of fundraising events followed — auctions, meals, walkathons, raffling off a car — so that $200,000 was raised.
And a major step forward was accomplished when Groot Brothers donated the five acres on 11th Street.
“With the money we had we serviced the lot with water, sewer and hydro,” Amonson said.
The first six-plex was built in 2007 with the second one coming in 2010 and the third in 2015.
“All funding has been by donations, grants and mortgages from the credit union,” said Amonson.
The society maintains a waiting list and fills vacancies from the list. Applicants must be 60 years or older. There are some restrictions — cats are not allowed and renters can have only one small dog.
The society looks after yard maintenance and janitor work in common areas and snow removal by contracting out the work while society members look after minor care and maintenance.
With more than 110 members, the society held its annual general meeting via Zoom on Dec. 7.
The society’s intent to build a fourth six-plex falls in line with a housing assessment report commissioned by the District of Houston and released earlier this year.
It noted that more housing specifically meant for seniors would allow them to stay in the community.
The report, at the time of its preparation, indicated there’s a waiting list of approximately 50 people for housing within the Pleasant Valley Village complex.
Aside from the current 18 units, there are six subsidized assisted living units and 16 subsidized independent living units for people aged 55 years and older at Cottonwood Manor.
More senior housing, the report continued, would allow older residents to downsize from larger, family homes, thus freeing up those units to be purchased by young families.