Elkridge apartment complex provides relief for the elderly Seniors escape noise of young neighbors to find quiet, affordable homes

July 01, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Joseph Wolf lived in a Glen Burnie apartment building for five years until noisy neighbors made it difficult for the 69-year-old man to rest -- causing his blood pressure to skyrocket.

His problem was alleviated last week when he and his wife, Vivian, also 69, moved to Colonial Landing in Elkridge, Howard County's newest apartment complex for seniors.

Development of senior housing is causing friction in some neighborhoods, as builders scramble to create affordable homes for the county's booming senior population -- projected to increase by 259 percent in the next 24 years.

But while projects in Ellicott City and Columbia have encountered stiff opposition from some community residents, the Elkridge complex has garnered almost none.

"It's not like we came in to build a housing project," said John Reynolds, Colonial Landing's property manager. "It's a beautiful building along Route 1 -- which needed a beautiful building."

Colonial Landing is the second senior home built and operated in Howard County by the Baltimore-based Shelter Properties development company. It also operates the Carriage Run facility in Columbia's Owen Brown village.

According to the state Office of Planning, the county has about 20,500 residents 60 and older, about 10 percent of the county's population.

Projections are for a 25 percent increase in the county's total population in the next decade and a 70 percent increase in the elderly population.

The Wolfs owned a home on the Eastern Shore for many years, but as they grew older, the demands of keeping up a home became too much for them to handle. So they moved to the Glen Burnie apartment, but found living with younger tenants to be noisy and uncomfortable.

The Elkridge complex drew them to Howard County.

"I prefer a senior building," Vivian Wolf said. "It's quiet and secure."

And affordable, they add.

Colonial Landing apartments rent for as low as $385, Reynolds said.

To live there, potential tenants must be at least 62 years old and their income must not exceed $22,020 for individuals and $25,140 for couples.

While much of the secure, four-story, 100-apartment building was completed in March, a water garden still is under construction, along with a walking trail that will wind around the building and extend to the Elkridge branch library and a county-operated senior center next door.

But the dozens of construction workers, heavy equipment and dust didn't deter 15 residents from moving in two weeks ago. Reynolds expects the building to be fully occupied by the fall.

"It says a lot about the need for these kind of places," he said. "We have the technology to keep people alive longer. They should have affordable, dignified housing that they can be proud of."

The building is an "independent living" facility, meaning tenants must be able to meet their own daily needs such as grooming without the intervention of the building's four-person management, maintenance and housekeeping staff.

While it isn't the responsibility of the building staff to provide medical care for the tenants, it is their job to "keep the place hopping, keep it from becoming nursing home-ish," Reynolds said.

"We don't have many rules here, but we do ask residents not to wander the halls in their housecoats and slippers. It's not a [nursing] home."

Moving from a house to an apartment in a senior complex may be difficult for some seniors.

The trauma of giving away or throwing out belongings accumulated over decades can be traumatic, said Juanita Hoffman, 73, who recently moved to Colonial Landing with her husband, Edward.

And having rent payments again, years after paying off a mortgage can also be a turnoff, said Edward Hoffman, 74.

But when the former longtime Elkridge residents were unable to maintain their Florida home after nine years, they chose to return to the county instead of live with their son in New Jersey.

As they said, "We wanted our own place."

Pub Date: 7/01/96

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