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Housing in CNY Might Not Meet Needs of Aging Baby Boomers


Focus Greater Syracuse is looking to the community for ideas on improving housing in order to keep aging baby boomers in the area.

“We need their money.  We’ve been talking for a long time in Central New York about keeping our younger population, which is a huge challenge.  We need to keep our older population, if for no other reason, selfishly, they are the wealthiest part of our population.  We need their money,” says Realtor Don Radke

Don Radke chairs the city’s Landmark Preservation Board.  He was one of three panelists at a Focus Greater Syracuse forum this morning, centered on creating housing options that will suit boomers’ changing needs.  Radke identifies barriers in strict planning and zoning rules that could be changed.

Graph shows the percentage of baby boomers in Syracuse and surrounding communities in the year 2000. (darker color=higher percentage)

 “Zero-lot-line building; we can allow shared housing; we can allow small businesses in places of residence.”Radke also sees opportunities in vacant properties, which can be re-customized for individual needs.  He favors offering payment-in-lieu-of-tax deals to developers, who remodel residences.   But, he says, they aren’t the only ones who should receive such incentives…

“The same thing can be achieved, I think, by developing a PILOT program for an individual who wants to buy a house and put that money into it that they would put into property taxes and rebuild a community that way.”

Chart shows growth in baby boomer population in Syracuse and surrounding communities by 2010 (dareker color=higher percentage)

The change in housing needs could be an opportunity for construction.  Home Builders  and Remodelers Association Director Mary Thompson says, so far, her organization has found people haven’t really identified what they want.

“And they’re trying to decide, ‘Do I want to stay where I am? Do I want to down-size? Do I want to move into a different area or closer?”

Focus Greater Syracuse is conducting an “age-friendly-cny” survey for thoughts…find it at

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
Valerie studies Newspaper Online Journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She began reporting for WAER in 2008. Two years later, she started helping produce the afternoon state and local newscasts. Then, her passion for radio led her to report and anchor local news for KBEC 1390-AM in Waxahachie, TX from 2011 – 2012. After returning to WAER, she jumped right back in as assistant producer and weekend reporter. Now, she’s primarily interested in multimedia journalism, telling stories through print, photography and audio for the web. But you can still hear her this fall, as Friday’s host for All Things Considered. She enjoys the beautiful scenery around Syracuse. And she loves serving Central New Yorkers!