Tuesday, September 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Struggling seniors told to share their stories

By
From page OSF6 | July 10, 2014 |

SUISUN CITY — A substantial portion of the recent Solano County Senior Poverty Summit was devoted to letting local seniors tell their stories – stories that might otherwise remain hidden.

Organizers said one goal is to break through a media image that many seniors are rich and healthy. That isn’t the only reality, they said at the June 17 summit at the Joseph A. Nelson Community Center in Suisun City.

” ‘Tell the story’ – that might be our theme,” Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering told the gathering of about 150 people.

To that end, local seniors Nellie Ruiz, Sandy Costa, Maggie Hart and Dollie Lee shared their experiences. They took to the stage for a panel discussion.

Ruiz lives in Vallejo. She owns her house, which she believes costs less than it would to rent housing. But the mortgage takes about half of her Social Security income.

“I have to save every penny so I can buy food and manage my household,” Ruiz said.

She has kidney failure and her friends take her to her dialysis treatments. Her friends from church check on her and help her with house chores.

“If it wasn’t for my friends, I wouldn’t know how to survive,” she said.

Despite her tight finances, she finds a way to feed her two dogs. She doesn’t view the dogs as a luxury.

“I need that love,” Ruiz said. “I need that companionship from my animals and friends.”

Costa lives in a Fairfield senior apartment complex and is a retired nurse. At 57, she began to have problems with her hands and eventually needed surgery, ending her nursing career.

Her husband died and she lost her home. She lost everything, going from riches to rags, Costa said. She had a mental breakdown.

“Through friends, mostly, I’ve come back to the living, so to speak,” Costa said.

But she sees other seniors facing mental health challenges. Seniors as a whole are depressed and that’s why events such as the Senior Poverty Summit don’t get bigger turnouts, she said.

“They are hibernating in their cubbyhole apartments out there,” Costa said.

Many seniors don’t get financial help from their children, she said.

“Our kids are struggling, let’s face it,” Costa said. “I know in their hearts they want to help us, but they can’t.”

Fairfield resident Hart in recent years has worked at such jobs as being an in-home health care aide and church secretary, but has faced layoffs. More than half of her $1,000 monthly income goes to rent and she gets $83 a month in food stamps. If nothing happens out of the ordinary, she gets by. But if her car needs tires or repairs, she’s out of luck, Hart said.

Lee, of Fairfield, doesn’t get Social Security and draws about $836 from Supplemental Security Income, most of which goes to her rent. At one point, she couldn’t afford food and got so sick that she couldn’t turn over in bed, she said.

She can’t get food stamps. She is looking at making some tough choices about continuing to live in her senior apartment.

“I’m still thinking I’m going to live in my car,” Lee said. “I don’t have any choice. I have to live in my car.”

The summit was designed to get input from the audience on senior issues. Several people came with various concerns.

“They need to have more low-income housing,” Fairfield resident Gladys Douglas said. “You’ve got to have enough money left over. We don’t have a lot left.”

Vallejo resident J.W. Davison is concerned about transportation. He finds it hard to get a bus at times in Vallejo.

“Just expand the hours,” Davison said. “Especially in the summer, because the days are so long.”

Solano County will have a second Senior Poverty Summit on Oct. 16.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • LWJuly 10, 2014 - 4:03 pm

    The stats- 10,000 ppl turn 65 a day. half were unable to put away. The avg. SS check is 900-1200 per month. IMHO- Too many seniors are taking up jobs, as they have no choice. Mandate all into payroll tax, no exceptions. Take the cap off. Then increase the min. SS ck up to apprx. $2500 a month. Seniors can feel good about working all those years and retire a lil comfy.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895July 10, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    Good ideas, except the minimum check shouldn't be $2,500. It should be whatever is needed to make total income equal to $2,500.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

VP Biden says workers deserve ‘fair share’

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
San Francisco to be 1st to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GOP challenger tries novel tactics against Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
US eating habits improve a bit – except among poor

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Poland’s PM: Ukraine’s war must be stopped now

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Opinion

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
‘Guardians’ tops Labor Day, summer box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Kirk rallies to win the Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rockies top Giants after losing end of suspended game

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dunn homers in 1st at-bat as A’s top Mariners

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Right guard Boone passes physical, rejoins 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders name rookie Derek Carr as starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armed with new deal, Chiefs’ Smith looks forward

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Column: Stewart’s Chase status doesn’t matter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders ink CB Dowling, 9 others to practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Serena Williams, Djokovic roll to US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Houston Astros fire manager Bo Porter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hamels, 3 Phillies relievers no-hit Braves

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 4 Comments | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7