Jaycee Estates residents happy and living independently

The residents of Jaycee Estates, 1689 Colegate Dr., are mostly elderly, but they say they are living independently and happily.

Elah Cassady, 93, has lived at the Section 8 Project housing facility the longest.

“I’ve been here 32 years; ever since it opened on Aug. 27, 1981,” she said.

Cassady said she liked having a small space, which has a bedroom, sitting area and small kitchen, and enjoyed the environment.

“I’ve got a roof over my head and expenses I can handle,” she said. “What more could you want?”

Cassady added that the location of the facility was conveniently close to a bank and a grocery store so that if she needed to go out, she could go somewhere close to home.

While she enjoys having her six children over for a visit, she said she’s glad she can be on her own.

“I like company, I like to see (my family),” she said. “To be with them 24/7…you get on each other’s nerves. I was raised to believe no house is big enough for two families.”

Helen Perry, resident manager, said the facility houses a total of 100 people across two buildings.

“The qualifications (to live at Jaycee Estates) are that residents must be 62 or older, or are disabled or handicapped,” Perry said, adding that there was no age limit for the latter qualification.

The buildings have common areas, which are mainly made up of tables and chairs, where residents can sit and talk. Activities like Bingo and puzzle building often take place there.

Perry said an added perk of living in Jaycee Estates is that not only can residents come and go as they please, they can also have pets.

“They can have one cat or dog,” Perry said. “They have to pay a deposit of $300.”

While that expense is large for some, one resident, Norma Cisler, 84, thought it was worth it to have a kitten.

Cisler has been a resident since 2011 and really enjoys her home.

“You couldn’t ask for anything nicer for anyone,” she said. “Everybody’s friendly…It’s always nice and comfortable and if it’s not (the staff can) make it comfortable for you.”

Cisler said it’s the first time in a long while that she hasn’t been working and she’s keeping busy with watching TV and knitting, which takes more time than she thought it would.

“It’s such a clean place,” she said. “That pretty much stays the same. I think everyone knows to behave (themselves) and not have wild parties.”

Perry said the previous inspection of the facility was a couple of years ago. The HUD website lists the last inspection as 2007, when Jaycee received a score of 79.4 out of 100.

William Hughes, director of project management for HUD’s Columbus Field Office, said that there were more current inspections not listed on the site.

He said Jaycee Estates received a score of 88 in 2009 and a score of 97 in 2011.

Myra Talbot, project coordinator for Jaycee Estates, said was happy with the last inspection score.

“Ninety-seven is exceptional,” she said. “(HUD) looks for emergency things. The building is very safe. Because it was such a high score, the next inspection should be sometime next year.”

Talbot said only minimal things were wrong with the facility at the last inspection.

“There were very minute, little things that were taken care of,” she said.

With the previous problems no longer an issue, Talbot said an even higher score was likely for the next inspection.

She added that HUD recently decided to renew housing assistance with Jaycee Estates for 20 more years.

“It’s an exceptional property and building,” Talbot said.

Perry said residents are free to invite anyone they would like into their rooms, and guests can even stay over.

“(Residents) can have visitors and relatives can stay overnight, kind of like what you’d do in your own house,” she said. “I’m not a sentry guard; (residents) can come and go as they please.”

Another resident, Lawrence Babb, 63, said he enjoys the perks of being on his own.

“People leave me alone,” he said. “I do my own thing…I do all my cooking, washing, everything.”

Meanwhile, Cassady is enjoying quiet days, mostly in her room.

“I’ve got a roof over my head, I’m in where it’s warm and I don’t have to go out for anything,” she said. “I’ve got no yard work, I can have my groceries delivered…It’s just an ideal place for me.”