Alexandria, VA

Alexandria could open up new zoning options in the city for “continuum of care” facilities that would offer local seniors a new option to age in place.

While elder care homes, group homes for the elderly, nursing homes and hospice care are all included in sections in the zoning code, staff said in a report that there’s no definition for senior facilities that offer a “range of care options from independent living to assisted living, with or without memory care services, within one facility.”

Under the current language, staff said there were vagaries about how existing development standards — such as setbacks, open space, and density — would apply to a facility like this, which eludes traditional residential, commercial and mixed-use zoning classifications.

The new continuum of care amendment is scheduled for review at tomorrow’s (Saturday) City Council meeting.

The new definition classifies continuum of care facilities as domiciliary use and/or care for four or more aged, infirm, or disabled adults. The definition also allows for a range of independence, from housing with kitchen facilities to assisted living with memory care, all located on one lot.

The move is part of an effort by the city to supply adequate housing for its senior citizens. According to a staff report:

The demand for senior housing in Alexandria is increasing as the population ages. Analyses of the American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year 2015 Estimates show that the City’s population aged 65 and older increased from 9.2% in 2010 to 9.8% in 2015. While the City’s senior population is growing at a slower rate than in other areas of the country, this age group is expected to continue to grow in Alexandria over the next twenty years as the “baby boomer” generation enters this age group in greater numbers and Alexandria continues to be a desirable location for retirement and aging in place.

Approval of the new zoning options won’t mark the end of changes for continuum of care facilities. According to the staff report, the Affordable Housing Work Group is currently assessing ways to create more affordable senior housing options via developer contributions and other means.

Photo via Susan Jane Golding/Flickr

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