Senior centers master plan
The Bay Terraces Community and Senior Center in San Diego. The city marked its opening in August 2021. Photo credit: @CityofSanDiego, via Twitter

A private foundation on Thursday introduced its “San Diego Master Plan for Senior Centers,” a countywide proposal to bring modern versions of such centers to local communities.

In San Diego County, there are 28 senior centers, which the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation estimates serve only 8% of the older adult population.

In addition, many of the existing centers are “underfunded, understaffed and lack sufficient programming,” a statement from the foundation reads.

The plan outlines recommendations for Barrio Logan, Clairemont, Eastlake/Otay Mesa, El Cajon and Santee/Lakeside, areas that lack senior centers.

Out of the 28 existing facilities, almost half are older, outdated or have extremely limited buildings and amenities. Five are recommended for expansion, renovation or upgrades.

Bob Kelly, the foundation’s founder, cited dramatic growth in the local senior community, with estimates of up to 1 million people over the age of 60 living in the county by 2030. Current senior centers, he said, “won’t be able to provide adequate support.”

“Every senior deserves a safe, nearby place to build community, access resources and stay healthy and connected,” he added.

The plan released Thursday is a response to California’s “Master Plan for Aging” and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for counties and cities to create specific local action plans. San Diego County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Nora Vargas and San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate stood alongside Kelly to show support for the regional plan.

“Equitable and healthy aging is critical for the abuelitos and abuelitas in our county,” Vargas said. “Now is the time to be innovative and bring new ideas to address the challenges that we have in front of us with our growing senior population.”

The seniors foundation has established the “San Diego Master Plan for Senior Centers Capital Campaign” to raise $147 million over the next 10 years to start building the network of modern senior centers the plan outlines.

The Sahm Family Foundation has committed $2 million over four years. This funding has allowed the local seniors foundation to distribute its first series of grants, which are funding:

  • A paid executive director for the Ed Brown Senior Center in Rancho Bernardo
  • Fallbrook Senior Center thrift store capital improvements
  • The San Diego Workforce Partnership Mature Workers Project, and
  • The Retirement Academy at Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.

The foundation also announced the launch of its Wellness Services Navigator Program at the Brown center, Peninsula Shepherd Center in Point Loma and the Fourth District Senior Resource Center, near the Martin Luther King Recreation Center and Park.

The navigator is intended to work to improve accessibility of services and support older adults to help maintain their independence within their homes.

– City News Service