September is Healthy Aging Month and research shows that access to safe, affordable housing supports people’s physical and mental health. When households struggle to pay the rent, they not only face financial and housing instability, but they are also at risk for many other negative health outcomes. Individuals and families who pay too much of their income on rent are forced to make difficult choices between paying for rent and paying for medicine, food, heating, transportation, and other essentials that support their health.
GAHP provides high quality, safe, affordable housing at its apartment communities and supports its residents through enrichment services that promote housing stability and improved quality of life. Residents at Luminaria Senior Community have access to a bi-weekly food pantry to assist with food instability as well as health screenings and wellness classes designed to improve overall health and promote healthy lifestyles.
Sheldon is a resident at GAHP’s newest apartment community for 55+ seniors in Albuquerque, Luminaria Senior Community. Originally from Bosque Farms, Sheldon moved to Albuquerque 20 years ago and had a long career in the food service industry. When Sheldon was very young, he suffered from a hip ailment that has grown steadily worse throughout the years and ultimately gave out on him a couple years ago at the height of the pandemic. “I started going to doctors who told me I was headed for hip replacement and now I can no longer work and am on disability.”
Unfortunately, Sheldon was living in a third-floor walk-up apartment and that became unsustainable with his hip issue. “I started looking for a first-floor apartment but apartments in Albuquerque were full – I really needed a first-floor apartment to get ready for surgery. I can’t be climbing stairs.” Sheldon was on a waiting list at the Albuquerque Housing Authority (AHA) for a housing voucher. In the meantime, he lived in an extended stay hotel that was very expensive. “It took everything,” explains his sister Vicky, “so when he got a call that he had an apartment here, we were just ecstatic.
It’s a wonderful little apartment, nice and clean. The washer and dryer are definitely a plus. It’s hard for someone like Sheldon to get to the laundry. He doesn’t drive.”
Sheldon loves his new apartment. “I moved in in April and I’ve just had a good experience ever since. What I like best now is they’ve opened the food pantry. It’s every two weeks and I can just bring my wagon down and it’s a really big help. It helps stretch my food budget – and food is going up.”
When Sheldon met David, GAHP’s enrichment services coordinator, he complimented him saying that next time [David] was at a board of directors meeting he should tell them they did a really good job. “There is always that craziness getting things open and, in that craziness, you probably don’t hear any of the praise, so I just let them know it’s been real good,” says Sheldon.
Sheldon attributes having a stable home to his improved health.
“I’ve gotten stable, I’ve gotten to all my doctor’s appointments and my health is improving."
"I’m going to start exercising too because I need to lose some weight before my surgery.” Vicky concurs, “his health has really improved, he already lost 45 pounds.” Sheldon used to commute on a bicycle to his job. “It used to be easy when my transportation was a bicycle. I could eat large pizzas and just burn off the calories. After my surgery I plan on getting a bike again. Maybe an electric bike,” he says with a smile, “I’ll have to be careful.”
Sheldon is looking forward to meeting more people at the apartment community. “Things are just getting started activity wise – starting to get to know neighbors. I know I’ll meet more people.” “Yes, he’s very personable,” chimes in Vicky. In the meantime, both Sheldon and Vicky look forward to spending time on the third-floor balcony where they can watch the beautiful New Mexico sunset.