Furious Friday

22 Nov

“Treasure the wisdom of old age.
Learn from elder people and be wise.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
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When I checked my email today, I saw this letter from the Social Services Director at Towne Creek where I volunteer. I was outraged. Our seniors are neglected, disrespected, and taken for granted. What can we do? This can happen to our loved ones. This could happen to us!
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Mary is 92 and was told this week would be her last ride on the TAPS McKinney Fixed Routes. Mary lives independently at Towne Creek Apartments and has no family. She uses the TAPS to do her grocery shopping, errands and visits to the McKinney Senior Recreation Center. As of Monday, November 24th, she will have to depend on friends for transportation. Juanita is 97. She uses TAPS two to three times a week to visit the McKinney Senior Center to stay active since her son works during the day. These are only two of the lives that independence will be diminished at Towne Creek Apartments.

Residents at Towne Creek Apartments, a Retirement Housing Foundation Community, located at 506 S. Graves Street in McKinney just found out that they will not be on the TAPS McKinney Fixed Route any longer. Seniors have used the TAPS Route 100 since the inception of the McKinney City Routes.

Towne Creek is the only subsidized housing in McKinney for low-income senior citizens who are 62 years of age or older and/or those who are 18 years and older who are mobility impaired. (Subsidized under the HUD 202/8 program.)

The average age of residents who reside at Towne Creek living independently is 76 years old. Two of the residents who use TAPS most frequently are over 92 years old. 71% of our elderly residents are frail and at risk. We were told by TAPS that our residents could catch the bus at the stop which is 5 blocks away on Virginia (in front of the First Baptist Church). What adds further to the difficulty is that there are no sidewalks between our building on S. Graves and Rockhill, so seniors will have to use the street with their walkers and wheelchairs.

For most of our senior residents TAPS is the only means of transportation and they depend on this transportation everyday. The City Route affords these seniors transportation at no cost to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, senior center, etc. The average annual income of residents is $12,300.00. Without the City Route, the seniors would have to use the Demand Response which will cost $1.00 each way, but $2.00 could mean not be able to get their prescription; $10.00 could mean less for groceries; $40.00 could mean not being able to pay their electric bill.

On behalf of residents Towne Creek Apartments, staff has been in contact with TAPS representatives since this summer when the announcement of proposed changes was made. Staff has been told on numerous occasions that no changes would be made to Route 100. Towne Creek had a community Health Fair on October 2, 2014 where TAPS was a vendor present. No information of the change was given to the residents or staff. TAPS representatives made an education presentation at Towne Creek on October 21, 2014 and again no word on the changes coming. In fact, on the day of the presentation, TAPS representative provided Towne Creek with a flyer showing the daily times of the Route 100 stops at Towne Creek. After information was requested again last week, the only changes to the Route that Towne Creek staff was informed of was that TAPS would be extending the hours of operation of the routes from 5 am – 10 pm, not that the routes would no longer run down South Graves.

No advance notification has been given to Towne Creek Apartments residents. Residents who rode the TAPS bus this week were told the news by TAPS drivers. Not only is this change detrimental to the financial well-being of the residents of Towne Creek, but also the independence of said residents. The ability to continue to live independently is of utmost importance in maintaining a quality of life. One of the greatest aspects of moving to Towne Creek Apartments has been the access of public transportation weekly.

Please reconsider the route change.

Christy Sadler
Social Services Coordinator
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