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Rents for low-income seniors to range from about $476 to $978 a month; federal vouchers to cover portion

By Paul Downey, President & CEO, Serving Seniors


February 5, 2019 (Ramona) -- Serving Seniors may be most well-known for its meal program, which provides 2,500 meals a day to seniors across the county. In 2017, the organization served 600,000 meals, which can greatly assist seniors that may be on fixed incomes, yet their housing expenses continue to increase.


In addition to nutritious meals, Serving Seniors helps seniors in poverty live fulfilling and healthy lives by also providing health services and affordable housing. Early this summer, Serving Seniors will open its 62-unit Schmale Family Senior Residence in Ramona. Developed in partnership with Chelsea Investment Corporation, it will be the organization’s Seniors’ first affordable housing complex in east San Diego County.   

 The organization currently owns and operates 350 units of affordable senior housing, Potiker Family Senior Residence (200 units) in downtown San Diego and Potiker City Heights Senior Residence (150 units).  


Like the East Village and City Heights senior apartment complexes, Serving Seniors’ Ramona units are designated for seniors earning between 30 and 50 percent of the area’s median income, or $15,000 to $35,000, including those with disabilities, mental health issues and a history of homelessness. Rents are expected to be approximately $476 to $818 per month for a one-bedroom and $569 to $978 for a two-bedroom, and qualified seniors will pay 30 percent of their income to live at The Schmale Family Senior Residence with Section 8 housing vouchers available to cover the remainder of the rent.


The need for these additional units for low-income seniors is significant. The calculated income needed for a single San Diego senior to pay for rent, housing, healthcare and transportation is $1,974/month. However, according to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefits paid to retirees is $1,360 a month, which means if a senior is relying on Social Security alone, it is not enough to pay for monthly expenses.


Add into the equation the unique circumstances of San Diego County, where housing costs are a stressor for many. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,748 per month – well beyond the income of many senior citizensAccording to July 2017 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.8 percent of the San Diego population is age 65 or older. It is no surprise based on these numbers that two out of every five San Diego seniors are at risk of homelessness, and unfortunately seniors account for 30 percent of San Diego’s homeless population. 


The Schmale Family Senior Residence in Ramona is a step toward alleviating the existing stressors that affect our local seniors. Serving Seniors believes in an integrated approach to serving older adults, and each apartment building provides supportive services such as social worker visits to help manage the needs of residences, access to a registered nurse and recreational activities. 

More such units may soon be coming to our region--if locations can be found.

"Serving Seniors is actively looking for additional sites in Ramona and the rest of East County to build more affordable housing for seniors,": says Arika Daniels, spokesperson. "The lack of affordable housing in the region is acute and will only worsen in the coming years because of aging baby boomers.

Primary funding for the units comes from federal tax credits that are allocated by the State of California.   Serving Seniors then sells the credits to investors which creates the bulk of the equity necessary to build the projects.  Additional funding, as in the case of Schmale Family Senior Residence, came through the County of San Diego in the form of direct subsidy and allocation of Section 8 housing vouchers.


 If you are a senior in need of assistance, would like more information, or are interested in donating to Serving Seniors, please call Serving Seniors at 619-487-0608 or visit


About Serving Seniors

Serving Seniors is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives. Founded in 1970, the organization meets its mission with a nationally recognized, coordinated wellness model. Serving Seniors provides nutrition, health services, housing and more to seniors in need. Serving Seniors has been expertly led for more than 22 years by President and CEO Paul Downey. Downey is the current chair and two-time appointed commissioner of the California Commission on Aging, board member for the American Society on Aging (ASA), and past president of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP)Visit


For more than two decades, Paul Downey has been a national advocate for low-income seniors, as well as the president and CEO of Serving Seniors, a nonprofit agency dedicated for nearly 50 years to increasing the quality of life for San Diego seniors living in poverty. Learn more at

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