AARP Eye Center
AARP Indiana has released a video series entitled “60 Seconds with the Candidates.” These videos focus on the Democratic candidates for mayor in the city of Gary and are part of AARP Indiana’s continued efforts to ensure 50-plus voters know where candidates stand on the issues that are important to them and their families.
The candidates, Mayor Jerome Prince and State Senator Eddie Melton, were asked the following questions:
What specific policy recommendations do you have to provide housing options that are affordable, physically accessible, and close in proximity to essential services and amenities?
Prince: Affordable housing opportunities are important in the City of Gary. To that extent, we intend to expand our operations in the Department of Community Development to provide more incentives and more programming for affordable housing for seniors. We also want to look for opportunities to create mixed-use developments in the downtown area, providing an opportunity for our residents to be much closer to the services that they require.
Melton: Ensuring that housing is equitably distributed around the city of Gary, part of the Eddie Melton Plan for Housing, which is hosted on our website, speaks specifically to ensuring that senior citizens have the ability and accessibility to quality affordable housing. And part of that is creating and developing livable, walkable communities and ensuring that those seniors have access to adequate health care, pharmacies, as well as food and other amenities. As I tour around the city and I talk to senior citizens, they share with me their frustrations and concerns that the city is not designed to favor them: the lack of sidewalks, the lack of other amenities that every other community surrounding the city of Gary has. And as mayor, I want to ensure that we are very mindful and intentional that we build and design a city in communities and neighborhoods that suit every single individual. That includes our seniors.
With the current levels of federal, state, and local funding, what services do you plan to provide older residents to help them stay in their homes and communities as they age?
Prince: As our senior population in Gary continues to advance in age, it's important that they have opportunities to reside in the communities that they're most comfortable in. To that extent, we're looking for better and greater opportunities to provide more incentives for them to be able to reside in those residences, such as our Senior Home Modification Program. In addition to that, we also want to provide transportation that gives them the access to the necessary services in which they desire.
Melton: Well, some of the services that we're looking to ensure that our senior citizens have in their communities is using federal funds wisely, making sure that we are able to help with their homes in terms of renovations or remodeling, and if they need to adjust and add a wheelchair ramp and make sure we can leverage and utilize our dollars wisely to help that homeowner, that senior citizen, live comfortably in that community. And one other option I'm looking at is making sure that we have quality options for seniors that want to live in senior assisted living facilities. We know that a lot of folks that may have health issues that may require some assistance, but they still have some sort of independence, and we want to make sure we have an ample quality amount of those type of providers and make sure we can come alongside of those providers and provide them their services. So, along with transportation and along with meeting the needs of everyday citizens.
What is your vision to ensure that people who either choose not to drive or are unable to drive, have access to affordable and convenient mobility and transportation options?
Melton: In the city of Gary, we're lucky we have the Gary Public Transportation Corporation that provides bus services. One of the things as mayor I'm going to look at is figuring out how do we provide more free bus rides for individuals that may not be able to afford it on a daily or monthly basis. And that's us utilizing our federal resources more wisely and partnering with the Gary Public Transportation Corporation as well as a city and that entity comes along. But most importantly, I want to make sure that we look at the amenities that individuals need, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical resources, and figure out how can we partner with our corporations to bring those services closer into our community. Because right now, citizens have to travel outside of Gary just to get their basic needs met.
Prince: As our senior population continues to advance in age, it's important that they also have access to adequate transportation in order to meet their needs. To ensure that this occurs, we will continue to expand public transportation options, in addition to finding ways to provide affordable transportation, as well as making sure that our policies align with accessibility.
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