St. Mary’s Center offers two permanent supportive housing sites to help homeless seniors transition from the street to more independent housing.
Located on the grounds of St. Mary’s Center, Closer to Home opened in 2008. Each senior has an individual bedroom, with a shared common area. Our second supportive housing site, Presentation House, opened in 2015. It was made possible in part by the Sisters of the Presentation Ireland, who sold a nearby residential home to us when they vacated it.
Each of our homes accommodates six seniors at one time. In a one-year period, we anticipate that 20 to 24 people will be helped by this program.
We have found that a smaller, home-like setting works better for seniors than a larger institutional one. Participants pay a portion of their income for housing, and buy their own groceries. They learn how to live with others, share kitchen space, a common living area, and participate in regular house meetings. Everyone has a case manager and is working on an individualized program to move their life forward.
Moving homeless seniors into permanent housing is the primary goal at St. Mary’s Center and one that we struggle with daily. The average cost of renting even a small studio apartment in West Oakland is $1,200 a month, while most of our seniors receive around $877 a month on SSI. Below-market rate “affordable” housing usually requires an income of at least $1,500 a month, making it beyond their means.