Local representatives met with seniors in Winters for town hall event

Winters seniors start the conversation in a series of town hall gatherings on how to make Yolo County more ‘Age friends.’
Senator Bill Dodd and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry meet with constituents during a senior town hall meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Emma Johnson/Winters Express

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Seniors from Winters and the surrounding areas came to share their questions and concerns with the district’s representatives and get information about local resources for seniors last week when Winters hosted the first of a series of town halls presented by the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance. Shelia Allen, executive director of the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, introduced the two main speakers of the event: Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Senator Bill Dodd. These two opened the town hall with a list of ways they had each advocated for the aging population in their regions. Housing was a major point of discussion throughout the event, and Aguiar-Curry told the audience that securing senior housing has been a priority of hers since her time in Winters city government. She lamented that she has seen too many Winters seniors have to move out of town to assisted living centers in the surrounding area.  “I want people to stay here in Winters,” she said. “They’ve lived here their whole lives and want to stay here.” Aguiar-Curry called up Housing Programs Manager Dan Maguire to speak to the audience on the topic. Maguire said that while they were unsuccessful in their last round of asking for funding, they will now be filing an over-the-counter application (which will be less competitive) for a grant in March. He said this funding process will prioritize shovel-ready projects, and that it would be hard to find a project as shovel-ready as this one.  “It’s at the very top of our list,” Maguire assured the crowd, saying that they will keep pursuing it until they can come before the council and say they are ready to break ground. When the time for audience questions came, the first question was what can be done to get long term care options in Winters. Aguiar-Curry said that when she was in Winters government and looking into the logistics of alternative care facilities, her analysis found that it didn’t pencil out. The aging population just wasn’t large enough to sustain a care facility. Changing generational demographics were another major topic of discussion.  “As we know, the silver tsunami–it’s not coming, it’s here,” Dodd told the crowd. He pointed out that there are more seniors in California than ever, and the number is only going to grow. Aging in place is the goal, but it is becoming more expensive. Dodd said the district attorneys in his region report an alarming amount of elder abuse. All caregivers with agencies have background checks, but sometimes people go with unlicensed caregivers recommended to them by friends and family to save money, a choice that Dodd understands. Even so, Dodd says, seniors have the right to know who is entering their home. For this reason he has pushed for mandatory background checks for anyone in the position of caregiver. The current rounds of power shut-offs were also a cause for concern in the audience. Both politicians had strong words for their feelings on the matter. Dodd said the shut-offs were unacceptable in the long term and that he feels the last shut-off was just the company transferring the liability to their rate-payers. He believes his constituents will accept these conditions if they know that it is doing something, but not if they feel like it’s for nothing. “I’m pissed off,” Aguiar-Curry added. She was impressed by how the cities handled things, but she was angry with CPUC for not monitoring lines for maintenance.  Mayor Bill Biasi spoke to the city’s plans for reacting to future shut-offs. He said it was suggested at a council meeting that the community identify the people who will be especially affected by a shut-off and that they establish a volunteer group to assist those people who need help. Biasi invited everyone to attend the council meetings. Before closing the first portion of the town hall Aguiar-Curry emphasized the importance of filling out the census in 2020. Seniors are one of the populations that are frequently undercounted, and this affects funding to Yolo County programs.  In March, households will receive a postcard in the mail giving them a code to access the census questions online. Those who need to fill out the census on paper will be able to request a paper mailer. Yolo County will also be partnering with local organizations to set up times and locations where people can fill out their application online for no charge.  Allen closed the event with a questionnaire presented by the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance. Seniors were asked to share what they appreciate about living in Yolo County and what they would like to see change. These answers were collected and will be collated at the senior town halls in Davis and Woodland. The Davis senior town hall took place on Monday, Nov. 4. The event in Woodland will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Woodland Community and Senior Center located at 2001 East St. For more information about the event visit yolohealthyaging.org. ]]>

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