In the spring of 2020, people who have reached the age of 55 or older will have another place to live in Galloway Township.

Construction started this month on Heritage Village at Galloway, an affordable residential development for active seniors at the southwest corner of the White Horse Pike and Pomona Road.

When the project is completed, it will join several other senior housing developments in the township, such as Four Seasons at Historic Smithville, Seashore Gardens Living Center and Countryside Meadows.

Rodney Harrell, director of livability thought leadership at AARP, said more housing is being made available for seniors than just single-family homes, such as Heritage Village at Galloway, but by and large, the country is not doing enough.

“In 2035, it is supposed to be the first year ever that there are more Americans over 65 (78 million) than under 18 (76.7 million),” Harrell said.

Galloway Mayor Anthony J. Coppola Jr. said someone who moves into the 55-and-older Four Seasons community at the minimum age may live there for 20 years, but then need to transition to an assisted-living facility or a nursing home, which can also be found in the township.

“Businesses pop up to address the market demands,” said Coppola. “It’s something we consider. It’s not by accident that we’ve addressed these needs. It’s happened according to plan.”

Between 2000 and 2010, Galloway was one of six municipalities in the state to gain more than 2,000 senior citizens in a decade, according to U.S. Census data.

It still took years of planning, multilayered negotiations, relationship-building, paperwork and financial sourcing to bring Heritage Village to Galloway, the largest municipality in the state geographically and the third-largest in Atlantic County by population.

Atlantic County is estimated to have the sixth-largest percentage of residents 65 and older in the state at 16.9 percent, or 45,800 people, according to the Census’ 2016 Population Estimates.

Ocean County has the second-highest percentage of elderly in the state at 22.2 percent, or 131,778 people, according to the Census.

Maria LaFace, director of the Ocean County Department of Senior Services, said the county is unique because it has many adult communities where seniors purchase their homes and live in them.

“We’re seeing affordable apartment units being built now,” LaFace said. “It seems to me that the trend has moved away from those larger adult communities, only because space-wise we don’t have that kind of space, and we are moving into an era of more affordable apartment living.”

Cornerstone at Barnegat, located at 9 S. Main St., is an affordable project for seniors that opened in December 2016. It is a three-story building, composed of one- and two-bedroom apartment units with balconies.

Cape May County has the estimated highest percentage of seniors in the state at 25 percent, or 23,597 people, according to the Census.

There are three issues when dealing with housing for seniors, Harrell said.

First, new housing has to be built in a way that accommodates seniors. Second, existing housing has to be improved to make it easier for seniors to live in, and third, housing needs to be more affordable, Harrell said.

“If something is an option that you can’t afford, it might as well not be there,” said Harrell, adding certain cities have adopted housing trust funds to address this issue.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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