Martha Franklin never envisioned living in a community with an age minimum.

When she filled out an application to live in a Northeast Baltimore co-operative for seniors she was only half-serious about the thought.

“I had a relative living here before me,” Franklin told the AFRO. “We had Thanksgiving dinner in the community room and I said jokingly “I’m going to move in here. Welcome to my home.”

Bowley’s Garden Villa Co-op is one of many communities that caters to seniors living in Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

That was 13 years ago.

Today, Franklin not only calls a senior co-operative community “home,” she is in her fourth term as president of the Bowley’s Garden Villa Co-op, where the youngest member is 62-years-old.

The 78-year-old said that while finances drove her decision, the atmosphere, convenience and culture were the reasons she chose to stay.

“Once I moved in it was like moving into a hotel,” said Franklin, who’s spent 74 of her 78 years in Baltimore. “We have laundry rooms on every floor. You put your trash out and someone takes it for you. There are emergency response people from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and we have community rooms where we gather to reminisce and have fun.”

Franklin said that live-in assistants aid guests with more in-depth health concerns, and when issues arise, staff and the co-op members who run majority of the facility are quick to respond.

Brandon Moss, the Maryland regional manager for CSI Support and Development, said many different factors go into deciding on a senior living community. Whether it’s an independent-living facility or an assisted living community with varying degrees of care from medical staff, tough decisions have to be made.

“There are a lot of questions seniors have to wrestle with. People come into senior communities with all kinds of perspectives and situations,” said Moss. “Some people own a large home and it’s time to downsize. Most people are just looking for affordability, quality, safety and security.”

CSI Support and Development owns and operates over 50 senior living communities in a total of 4 different states. The facilities are built using “HUD dollars, low-income housing tax credits, and/or additional funding from private foundations and state and local governments,” according to the company’s web site.

Six of those facilities, including Franklin’s, are located in Baltimore, with a total of 11 in the state of Maryland.

Rent at Franklin’s co-operative community is less than $600 a month and that price includes everything but electricity used for cooking. Moss said that CSI, a non-profit, “provides affordable housing usually through project-based subsidies.” Residents who qualify for Section 8 assistance are welcomed.

Planning to go into retirement is not a decision to be made mere weeks before the time arrives. Living expenses and arrangements have to be planned with funds usually saved decades in advance. Will a Senior Move Manager be assisting in the transition, or will family members take on the task of packing and moving their relative and everything they own? Does the senior qualify for subsidies due to low-income, or will the bill be covered out-of-pocket?

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that “more than 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the United States, and people are living longer, healthier lives.”

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, “fewer than half of Americans have calculated how much they need to save” for the 20 years an average American will spend living in retirement. Most Americans need 70 percent of their pre-retirement income to live comfortably. That number shoots to 90 percent for low-income seniors going into retirement.

Census information compiled in the report, “An Aging Population: The Older Population in the United States,” shows that by “2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012.”

According to the report, the increase in the retirement population is due in large part to baby boomers who have been entering their golden years since 2011.