I recently presented an analysis of senior levy funding across the state of Ohio to the Council of Older Persons, a regularly convened group of aging network professionals and advocates working or living in Cuyahoga County. One of the many insightful questions posed was whether the seniors most in need of publicly funded supportive services were living in communities that had made those services a priority through senior levy funding.
It is hard then, not to assume that funding designed to provide basic need services for older adults like home delivered and congregate meals would also be based on need.
But it just isn’t.
We are accustomed to seeing funds distributed based on need. If you have high levels of poverty in a community, you will see high levels of the public accessing benefit programs like SNAP, HEAP and TANF. It is hard then, not to assume that funding designed to provide basic need services for older adults like home delivered and congregate meals would also be based on need.
But it just isn’t.
There are 20 counties in Ohio where 20% or more of the population 60 and older is living at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. It is likely that these counties have a higher need for publicly supported senior services. However, in three of the counties, there is no levy at all. Nine of the counties fall below the median of $69.00 per senior. Six of the counties are just over the median. Two of the counties have two of the highest amounts available per senior. While two of these high poverty counties, Guernsey and Belmont, have been able to resource aging services at a high level, the remaining 18 are likely under resourced and may not be able to fully meet the needs of the older adults in their communities.
While all of these counties have access to Older Americans Act funds and Ohio Department of Aging funding for supportive services, supplemental funds available through levy dollars do not correlate with need.