Chairman, City View; Former Mayor, San Antonio, Texas; Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The vitality of our cities is at stake as we determine how to address our responsibility to residents of all ages. When we enhance the lives of our seniors, our cities are the beneficiaries of the talents and energy that this proud population is eager to share.
The frail woman sadly extended her hands, shaky and blotted with age spots, her skin near translucent as she gripped a doctor’s prescription in one palm, a utility bill in the other. “Tell me what I should do,” she pleaded. “I can’t afford to pay for both.” Her anguish was heart-rending. As I tried to set her at ease there in my city hall office, I could think only that no one should face the dilemma she held in her wrinkled hands.
It was an emotional encounter, but I couldn’t say that as mayor of San Antonio I was shocked by this particular visitor. Her plight had become all too familiar at my town-hall community meetings. I’d listened to the stories of our seniors, dignified retirees whose years of toil and responsibility had earned them a right to comfort and fulfillment in later life. Instead, they were struggling to find suitable housing, fearful of criminals who snatched their Social Security checks from the mail, and worried about their too-high electricity bills, their isolation, and fear of traffic.
Their problems were stunningly sad. Yet it ...