Photo: Flickr Viva Vivanista
Welcome to the Town of Darien, Connecticut, a quaint little place of 20,000 (mostly) white people.
The average home listing goes for more than $2 million, the median sales price stands at $1.3 million, and I’ve heard some refer to it as the mecca for WASPs.
Most of us have no shot in hell of ever living here, unless we’re rich, or on social security. Yes, social security.
If you’re a senior making less than $45,000 as a single or $58,000 as a couple, you can pay one-third of your income in rent towards one of the two affordable senior housing spots Darien provides.
The town deducts health care expenses that medicare doesn’t cover, and even helps provide assisted living. It’s called “ageing in Place,” though one of the affordable housing residents accidentally dubbed it, “Surviving in Place.”
Comparable towns in wealth and size, like New Canaan, Connecticut, don’t designate specific housing to seniors and what the they do provide proves to be limited.
Darien is no safe haven for all elderly people surviving on social security, but this little town gives some seniors a real steal, especially since the area’s median household income reaches $218,138, according to Trulia.com, a real estate website.
Georgette Ferrante, one of the lucky seniors to make the Darien housing cut, owns no assets except for a car that doesn’t work and $1,700 a month in Social Security. (Her check is grandfathered from her deceased husband.) The housing authority deducts some of her medical expenses from her income and she’s got $50,000 saved in the bank. But really that’s all she has.
Of course, there’s a catch: Space is limited as it is in most of these wealthy types of towns.
“I was on the waiting list two years and many people told me that was quick,” said Ferrante, who has been living in the affordable housing since April. She’s on the younger side in her building, 78.
Darien asks that residents fulfil certain requirements, which includes meeting the income criteria and proving you can live on your own with a doctor’s recommendation. Still, it was repeated to me more than once that requirements are flexible—even the income limit.
Darien’s Allen-O’Neil Homes consist of 41 single-family homes and one 12-unit apartment building. The housing, completed in 1953, was built on a home for veterans of the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.
The other complex, the Old Town Hall Houses, was completed in 1988 and has 30 units.
There is some good news about the wait list, however. If you’re being evicted and don’t have the money to relocate, you might get lucky enough to jump to the head of line. But don’t count on it—the wait could take as long as your lifetime.