To the editor:
As I've read the articles in our local newspaper the past few weeks regarding the construction of several new apartments in Morris, primarily as UMM student housing, I can't help but think that the city of Morris and the developers are very unaware of the large gap in rental housing needs. They are unaware of the people who are being overlooked. The people who are being overlooked are mainly our retired people and those 65 and over. These are people who have served our city and farming community over the years. People who for one reason or another do not or cannot continue to live in the homes they own.
As you retire and grow older you may not want the responsibilities of maintaining a house and the upkeep of a yard. Or you may lose a spouse or have a physical condition and you no longer want to live alone in your home but you certainly do not need to live in an assisted living community either. Maybe you want to sell your home and have the freedom to travel and not worry about your house and property while you are gone.
I know of couples who live on their farm and want to move to town but they find there is no where to live. I've heard this statement over and over. I believe that if you talk to rental housing managers they will tell you there is a rental gap in Morris.
Morris has one affordable senior living facility which is West Central Homes. It is a very nice independent senior living facility and well kept. So much so that if you want a two bedroom unit, which couples and even most single women want, there is a long waiting list to get in. You may have to wait at least a year or more. Skyview Plaza is a senior living/assisted living facility which is more costly (than West Central because of care available) and isn't what the 65 and over group may need at this point in their life. East Point Village is a nice apartment building but it wasn't built with senior citizens in mind. The Legacy is great and has its purpose as an assisted living center.
Many of the people who had businesses and supported the town and who have retired, have moved to Alexandria, Glenwood and Starbuck or other nearby communities. This is not always because they wanted to leave Morris but because Morris doesn't offer independent/senior living type of housing.
Independent/senior living consists mainly of maintenance free, comfortable and affordable facilities that offer walk-in showers, grab bars, individual laundry rooms and attached garages, convenient services and amenities for those 65 and over.
Let's say that you and your wife are retiring from years of employment in Morris or you are a retiring farmer. Your kids live around Morris. You have grandchildren in school and you want to attend their events. You want to move to town or move from your home. You don't want the responsibilities that come with buying a house. You want independent/senior living that you can remain in as you age. But there is no where like that to move into in Morris.
People leaving Morris feel the town has let them down. Other towns, even some smaller than Morris, have helped to build independent/senior living facilities in their communities.
When people move from Morris the money they would have spent at local businesses is being spent somewhere else.
I hope someone wakes up and makes it a priority to fill the rental gap and advocates for a developer to build an independent/senior housing facility soon.