Workers in the senior caregiver field face many consequences – physically, emotionally and financially – a workforce essential to Del Mar’s senior and disabled community. In our growing demographic of aging residents many prefer to age in place – forgoing care in a more institutional setting. Covid’s staying power is one convincing factor.
The local job market has extreme shortages of home caregivers. The low wage, the average annual wage in San Diego is $31,641, and very poor housing availability weaken the workforce numbers and present major vulnerabilities for the care provider. Those who work in formal caregiving roles whether through an agency or self-employment as a home care aide run the high risk of food insecurity and homelessness.
During my work with Helping Hands at St. Peter’s, I met many unsheltered clients who had been caregivers and could no longer afford housing when their jobs ended, especially if it was a live-in arrangement, or if their car could not be kept operational. One caregiver I met shared a garage apartment with a friend in El Centro, was employed by a San Diego agency as a day caregiver, slept in her car during the night, showered at Brother Benno’s in Oceanside and travelled back to El Centro for days off. Many of these individuals were well into their 50’s with no savings and unrelenting stress.
We need to assist the well-being of this workforce that invests so much service to our community. Working in Del Mar depends upon reliable transportation or a lengthy public transit commute, adequate sleep and physical rest from the crouching, kneeling and bending.
Del Mar does not, as yet, have affordable workforce housing, but there are established methods to do so.
Shared Housing: a longstanding strategy throughout our nation to match homeowners with home seekers has been formally embraced by Del Mar Community Connections with its partner Elder Help, San Diego – Homeshare Program. County Supervisor, Joel Anderson in July 2023 spearheaded the County’s proposed Senior Shared Housing Program and Townspeople, a local nonprofit has launched a regional effort with its San Diego Shared Housing Collaborative. Our residents can be matched with a compatible renter who provides some household help.
Accessory Affordable Apartment Program: affluent communities such as the town of Barnstable on Cape Cod put incentives on new ADU construction for rent limits (zero per cent interest loan that covers up to $20,000 on eligible expenses) in response to the growing housing unaffordability and the need for seasonal workers. Sixty homeowners applied since 2021. In Salem, Massachusetts, ADU homeowners who commit to limiting the rents to low income households are exempt from property tax on the ADU in addition to grants up to $2,500 design costs and $45,000 for construction costs.
Del Mar has over 100 ADUs either built or in the permitting pipeline. Why can’t we open the doors to supporting our workforce for those who work and care for us and our neighbors?