Visionary ideas for senior living are great, but Mass. needs to act on making individual homes adaptable

May 3, 2021 Letter to the Boston Globe by Carol Steinberg

I was quite impressed with the ideas presented in The Longevity Hub about ways for people to age well in their communities (Opinion, April 26). Clearly, 2Life Communities, Carehaus, and the Green House Project are implementing visionary ideas about how we can live full lives as we age, enriched by neighbors, programs, and activities, and by supportive medical personnel as needed.

Yet it must be recognized that many don’t wish to live in this type of facility, however enriching it may be, and would rather remain in independent dwelling units in their communities, with caretakers as needed. The pandemic has made clear that in terms of the spread of disease, independent settings are safer than congregate care settings.

However, for those who choose to remain independent, there is a dearth of appropriate housing — housing that can be adapted to people’s needs as they age or in the event they become disabled.

So it makes little sense that under Massachusetts law, a loophole permits developers that convert large older buildings, such as mills and schools, into residential housing are not required to make units that can be adapted into accessible apartments.

Bill H.2420 pending in the Massachusetts House would close this loophole by ensuring that any “gut” rehab of a pre-1991 building or conversion of a pre-1991 commercial building into residential use would make all of its units adaptable. In the Senate, Bill S.1629 would make workplaces accessible as well.

This legislation must be passed as soon as possible.

Carol R. Steinberg, Jamaica Plain

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