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People Inc. opens new residence for seniors, many still left waiting

People Inc.

The former Houghton College site on Union Road in West Seneca is the new home to dozens of Western New York seniors. People Incorporated opened Walnut Senior Living, on Friday.

46 one-bedroom apartments offer West Seneca seniors a safe and comfortable community to live out their golden years. People Incorporated’s President and Chief Executive Officer Rhonda Frederick said Walnut Senior Living boasts a conveniently placed, park-like setting, but noted that it is a very desirable location from a financial point of view.

“The rent is based on your income,” said Frederick, “So it’s incredibly affordable.”

The building was completely rented out in just one month’s time, leaving 83 seniors on a waiting list. It is evidence to the fact that West Seneca – like the rest of Western New York – needs more options for seniors and their growing demand. Many would-be residents who end up on waiting lists may never get called up, because of the low turnover rate in senior housing. Frederick said alternative living options can be far more costly.

Credit People Inc. / WBFO News
An exterior view of Walnut Senior Living, People Inc.'s newest residence for seniors.

“People would be living in other places and spending significant amounts of their monthly income on housing to the detriment of other things, not being able to have a car, pay insurance, do some of those other things that we all take for granted,” said Frederick.

Walnut Senior Living was paid for with assistance from a federal Housing and Urban Development Section 202 program that is no longer funded. Frederick says People Incorporated continues to look for alternative sources of funding to develop more affordable housing for the more than 700 seniors who are on waiting lists across Western New York. She is hoping the federal government will recognize that number, and once again institute support programs.

Early in the planning process, People Incorporated came up against resistance from West Seneca’s Town Board and its residents over concerns of increased traffic, decreased property values, a strain on an already taxed sewer system, and inconsistencies with the town’s master plan. Frederick said those issues were worked out through the court system and collaboration with the town.

“I think everyone’s very happy that we’re there,” Frederick said, “And I know our tenants are thrilled.”

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.