My Journey to Affordable Housing: Finding a Budget-Friendly Residence for Older Adults

By Jeanne McTootle
January 2019, as shared at the Housing for All Legislators' Breakfast

My name is Jeanne McTootle.  I want to share with you my story about how I got to reside in a low-income building here in Maple Grove.

I have been in Minnesota since 1975.  I worked at the IBM Corporation in Rochester and in 1990 I retired and continued to reside in Rochester until 1997, when I moved to be closer to my family. In 2003 my son-in-law was deployed with the military in Bosnia. I moved in with my youngest daughter and her children until he returned in April 2004. Then I started to look for an apartment and found a place but with a little more than I could afford to pay. My family paid my rent until my oldest daughter, a social worker, helped me in the search for lower income housing.

Section 8 at that time was closed. Some landlords would accept vouchers.  Volunteers of America and Commonbond, Bassett Creek Commons in Plymouth and Arbor Lakes Commons in Maple Grove were listed closest to my family. I applied at both sites and within two months Plymouth was available.  I moved there May 21, 2005, commuting daily to help with the grandchildren until after a two-and-a-half-year wait I moved to Arbor Lake Commons January 1, 2011. I consider myself blessed and fortunate. After 15 years, I am still in Commonbond housing.

But today it is very difficult for many seniors to find affordable housing. The need is so great. To developers and elected officials thanks to you for what we have.  Seniors are living longer, some retiring with small pensions, some with no pension, some living on Social Security alone, or with no provision.  Developers primarily build housing mainly to make money that Seniors cannot afford to live in.  I would hope that some would consider aiding and furnishing a subsidy.

The building that I live in is well maintained and safe. It is centrally located near the government center, the library, a central outdoor park, stores nearby, and a My Ride Bus Service. Currently rental applications for this building are now being accepted until February 2nd.

I give back to the building and the broader community as well. I coordinate the Food Bank, provide the monthly calendar, am Secretary for the Resident Association, and just ended 12 years serving on the Community Action Partnership for suburban Hennepin. Currently I am serving on the Age-Friendly Leadership Team for Maple Grove.

I hope that I have given you a better idea of what some Seniors go through today. After having raised their families, they need some time for themselves but in lower-income housing.

Thank you for reading.