A meeting held Tuesday, April 30, at the Lake County Senior Center focused on current programs in support of senior citizens discussed the current state of affairs for funding and availability.
Department of Human Services representative Elaine Young, speaking on behalf of the state’s unit on aging for seniors and people with disabilities, and Klamath Basin Senior Citizens’ Council Exec. Dir. Richard Palmer met with the local center’s board of directors to discuss current programs.
Young said she was interested in learning of what services are currently being provided locally.
A historical narrative of the federal Older Americans Act and its breakdown at the state level traced the funding origins for such current local programs as Meals on Wheels and transportation assistance.
Young noted the Older Americans Act’s purpose was to establish a nationwide system and network of services that would help residents live in their own communities and/or homes.
Federally approved funding is about $17 million per year for the state of Oregon, with 5 percent dedicated to administrative costs and 95 percent to Area Agencies on Aging, Young said.
Oregon is divided into Planning and Service areas, with an Area Agency on Aging in each area. There are a total of 17 Area Agencies on Aging in Oregon. Funding is granted to each state’s Unit on Aging through a population-based formula, which then further grants funds to the Area Agencies on Aging.
The funding through the Older Americans Act currently stands at 7.44 percent due to federal sequestration.
“It was never intended to fully fund any service,” Young said, noting that the funding typically covers one-third of total program costs.
Service areas may encompass single or multiple counties, she noted, as District 11 includes both Klamath and Lake counties.
Local governments had the right of first refusal to serve as Area Agencies on Aging, Young said, a process that commenced in the early ‘70s.
Klamath and Lake counties turned down this role, she said, and the Klamath Basin Senior Citizens Center, as a non-profit agency, encompasses both counties as a result for this purpose.
Lake County Senior Center Board Chairman Darryl Bender noted a point of frustration locally is the lack of a large population base, which limits received funding. The logistics of serving such a large rural area also limits how far funds can be stretched, he said.