Monterey Park affordable for retirees

Wayne Langston, 76, likes that his neighbors check up on each other. He appreciates his apartment’s close proximity to shopping and that his monthly rent payments aren’t so much that he has to “live under a bridge.”

Langston is one of dozens of senior citizens who live at the private Monterey Park Retirement Community, a 186-unit, reduced-rate, apartment complex sandwiched between Seventh Street and 12th Street off Bookcliff Avenue.

“This used to be the gem of the community, but people have forgotten it’s here,” Monterey Park board member Matt Smith said. “For 20 years we had waiting lists, but those have shortened. This helps those seniors who can live on their own have nice accommodations.”

Monterey Park was started in 1958 with community donations and help from two nonprofit groups, Colorado West Senior Citizens Inc. and the Foundation for the Senior Citizens Inc. The complex’s original loan was government-backed, but the property is not considered a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development project.

The area’s parklike setting with ample trees and walkways gives residents free rein to garden as they wish. Residents must be able to live independently, though some residents use wheelchairs. Residents must be at least 62, pass a criminal background check and not earn more than about $30,000 a year.

Jackie Pack, 85, who has lived on-site for 13 years, said she pays about $300 a month rent, and she relishes her independence. She said she doesn’t want to live with family members, because she doesn’t want to feel as if she’s a burden. She’s also not ready for assisted living, a next step for people after they are unable to care for themselves.

Pack also knows what’s available in the rental market, and she’s not interested in paying more for what she perceives as less.

As the manager of the dining hall at Monterey Park, she volunteers mornings, making coffee and running the lunch hour.

“I would be miserable in an apartment,” she said. “Most of the people here are grandmas. We talk about our grandkids a lot.”

Without affordable retirement options, Smith worries that independent elderly people may too soon be admitted into assisted living centers.

“Physically, people often get exhausted trying to take care of large acreages or large homes,” he said. “It’s easier for some people to downsize than others.”


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