Committee delivers senior housing report to HW commission

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 2, 2017


HUNTINGTON WOODS — The Senior Advisory Committee for the city of Huntington Woods delivered a report to the City Commission on April 25 regarding housing options for seniors.

The report, titled “Housing Options for an Aging Population,” goes back at least five years and stems from the city’s desire to study the need for and feasibility of different housing options for seniors in Huntington Woods. Over that time, the city obtained community input through surveys, open houses and workshops.

According to the report, the committee recommended to the commission to implement strategies to educate residents and builders about universal design components that can be incorporated into new and retrofitted homes, to refine what new housing options in strategic locations in the city would look like, and to continue to gather community input on the issue of senior-oriented housing.

City Manager Amy Sullivan said “universal design” means that if someone is going to be building or remodeling a home, they would take deliberate actions to modify the home to accommodate older people.

“So think about if you were going to be doing a remodel of your home. Maybe you should think about putting a bathroom on the first floor,” she said. “If you start to think about those things before you need them, then they’re in place when you do need them. And the response we got from the residents was they thought that that was a good idea. It’s a good initiative for us to start educating our residents about that as they’re making decisions about building and remodeling.”

In talking about the housing options, Sullivan said one thing people need to know about Huntington Woods is that it’s 100 percent single-family residential homes.

“We have one duplex, but everything else is single-family, and that’s all you’re allowed to build here in Huntington Woods by our zoning ordinance,” she said. “We don’t have any place for apartments. We don’t have any place for condos. We don’t have any place for assisted living facilities. They’re just prohibited by our ordinance.”

Sullivan said the committee asked residents for feedback and thoughts about how they would feel about other housing units that are different from single-family residential, and if they think it might fit into the community, as well as where they think the most appropriate location would be.

“The feedback that the committee got was that people want to continue to look at that,” she said. “There was no definitive yes or no on that actual issue, but it was more, ‘Let’s look at this a little bit more. Maybe this might work. Maybe it might not work, but we need to continue studying it and taking a look at it.’”

What Sullivan, who also acts as the staff liaison to the committee, wanted to make clear was that the committee didn’t make a recommendation on the issue of senior housing, but it said “there is some interest in the community, and that the city should continue to look at it.”

The commission thanked the committee for its work over the years on this report before unanimously accepting it at the April 25 meeting.

“I know that a lot has gone into putting this together,” Mayor Pro Tem Joe Rozell said. “A lot of public input sort of started in 2012 and worked its way through 2016. So I look forward to looking at it in more detail as we move forward with the process.”