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John is one of the first new homeowners who’ll soon be moving into the Crescent Magnolia senior living community located in Hillsborough NC, which is being spearheaded by Habitat for Humanity of Orange County

A Booming Population

John is part of a growing number of seniors who have been overlooked when it comes to affordable homeownership and he’s not alone. It’s no secret that housing prices in the US have skyrocketed and the cost of living continues to increase. This affects all of us no matter how old we are, but it’s hitting the senior population especially hard.  People 65 and up are the most cost-burdened age group specifically in Orange County, with 28 percent of elderly homeowners and 56 percent of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Instead of enjoying retirement, they are worried about how they’ll be able to afford to stay in their homes or if they’ll be able to grow old in them.

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County saw the need for affordable homeownership for those 55 and up and understood that something needed to be done. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC (Blue Cross NC) recognized what Habitat OC was doing and the tremendous, positive impact it would have on the community. As our company remains committed to improving the health and well-being of all North Carolinians and addressing drivers of health, Blue Cross NC gave $100,000 towards the effort.

Welcome to Crescent Magnolia

Crescent Magnolia, the nation’s first Habitat senior living community focuses exclusively on permanent, affordable homeownership for seniors over the age of 55. The homes that are currently being constructed are designed with the aging senior in mind to promote preventative health care habits, independence, and socialization.

Home features include:

  • Zero-step entry and energy-efficient features and appliances.
  • Close proximity to the UNC Hospital Hillsborough campus and public transportation.
  • Green communal spaces to encourage interaction and volunteer opportunities.

John’s wife, Marion, is battling dementia and their current living arrangements don’t allow her to age in her existing home. We met John at a ribbon-cutting for the new living community. 

As I talked to him, two things stood out: he is extremely grateful to be selected as one of the homeowners in a first-of-its-kind community, and most importantly, he really loves his wife. Taking care of her and providing a home where she can be happy and comfortable is all that matters.  Marion sat beside John in the community gazebo and he leaned over to me and said, “she loves sitting out here.”

Appreciative of Habitat’s work in Orange County, NC

While other residents may not be dealing with the same scenario as John and Marion, they’ll be quick to tell you how the new living community has impacted their lives.   

Take Michelle Porchia who’s semi-retired, for example. She spoke at the same ribbon-cutting ceremony where I met John and she has a presence and personality that puts a person at ease. She’s a Bridal Consultant and was also approved for her Habitat Home in the Crescent Magnolia neighborhood. Michelle currently lives in a second-floor apartment where a lot of changes are happening and some of the perks that she had when she first moved in have been taken away. “Cable was free for me, and when they took that way, I was looking at having to pay almost $170 for basic cable and internet, which I couldn’t do.” There were also worries that with so many things changing in Michelle’s area, the price of her rent could shoot up. Michelle started doing research and found that there were few senior living options in Orange County. “One place I checked had a five-year waiting list,” she recalls.  

Michelle’s excited to be moving into her own affordable home, as well as being a part of the new senior living community from the ground up. “I’ve completed 272 of my 275 work hours at Crescent Magnolia which is required for new homeowners who’ll be living there,” she told me excitedly.  Michelle enjoys being able to interact with people more frequently. “The best thing about moving into my own home is more peace of mind and stability. I also enjoy getting to know my future neighbors as we’re already checking on one another, and that’s what community is all about.”

Brian Edmonds

About Brian Edmonds

Brian is a Public Relations Communication Specialist Associate at Blue Cross NC. He monitors health industry and company news daily for the leadership team and employees. Additionally, he prepares remarks and organizes external media communications plans for community relations events. Brian enjoys bringing awareness to the positive impact that Blue Cross NC is making in our local communities.