BY REBECCA BENNETT — At the March 21 Hyattsville City Council meeting, Community Services Director Jake Rollow presented a report from a recent survey done on services for senior citizens and people with disabilities. The city gathered information from interviews with residents, community groups and officials from other cities. The city also mailed out a printed survey to more than 8,000 residents, from which 600 were completed, only 22 of those received being in Spanish.
According to the report, more than 7 percent of the city’s 18,500 population are seniors age 65 years and older. More than 8 percent of the population has a disability. Approximately 17 percent of Hyattsville households have at least one senior member and are thus impacted by senior issues. Other demographics mentioned in the report are the more than 12 percent of residents between the ages of 55 and 64 moving into their senior years and the 11 percent of seniors who live below the poverty line.
Of people who responded to the survey, 50 percent were 61 years and older. 21 percent were between ages 51 and 60. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents reported that they live in a house, while 28 percent said they live in an apartment or condo.
A majority of the survey respondents (51 percent) said they wanted to say in Hyattsville, while 12 percent said they wanted to move and 37 percent said they were not sure. Reasons cited for moving include seeking a lower tax rate and cost of living, a warmer climate and/or less traffic congestion.
The services the city currently offers for seniors and those with disabilities include benefits assistance, information and referral service, the Call-A-Bus transportation service, educational programming, the Ageless Grace exercise class, and recreational programming. Prince George’s County and the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission also offer various services, which are listed in the full report. However, some of those services have a wait list.
According to Rollow, the city also looked at other municipalities in the local area that provide senior services, including Bowie, College Park and Greenbelt.
Staff and Resource Comparisons
|City||Population||% Seniors||# Full Time Employees||Transportation Vehicles|
|Bowie||57,000||11.5%||22||9 buses, 1 van|
|College Park||32,000||5%||4.5||3 buses|
|Greenbelt||24,000||7.5%||6.5||1 bus, 1 car|
Rollow said that compared to those cities, per capita, the City of Hyattsville has a lower staffing rate that other cities. He said the city provides comparable services in some ways, but in other ways, other cities are providing more services. Those cities are choosing to spend more money on senior services, he said.
The most popular services, according to the report, are the city’s Call-A-Bus service and county social workers and home visits. Among the most desired services are affordable housing, cost assistance with yard and home maintenance, and cost assistance with home modifications.
The report gave a series of recommendations, which include finding more ways to inform residents who do not know about senior and disability services that they exist, monitoring the number of residents waitlisted for county services to determine if overlapping services are necessary, and launching a no-cost “Good Neighbor” program to address weather-related yard maintenance and home modifications.
Rollow said he does not consider this report the end of the conversation.