Seniors Housing Business

APR 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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www.seniorshousingbusiness.com 33 April 2018 n Seniors Housing Business University Groves – Sarasota, FL 183 units The Sovana at Stuart – Stuart, FL 182 units Pilot programs bring health services to affordable properties As they become frailer, many low-income seniors face the tough choice to either remain in their home without easy access to regular medical services or move into a place where such services are provided. Seniors who find themselves in that dilemma may not need all the medical care provided by a nursing home, but few other affordable options exist. Most private-pay assisted living properties are beyond the financial means of low-income seniors, and affordable assisted living properties are quite rare. "People moving to nursing homes because of a housing shortage — that is the opposite of what we should be doing," says Linda Couch, vice president for housing policy at Leadin- gAge. The Washington, D.C.-based organiza- tion's more than 6,000 members and partners include nonprofit organizations representing the entire field of aging services. Housing officials, advocates and developers have come up with one possible solution to the problem. A new demonstration program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) now pays to bring medical services to the residents at afford- able seniors housing properties. The program includes newer properties subsidized by fed- eral low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) and older affordable housing built decades ago through earlier programs. "We are seeing great outcomes. Medical services allow seniors to stay longer in their homes or apartments as they age, moving into a nursing home at a later date rather than an earlier date," says Patrick Sheridan, executive vice president of housing for seniors hous- ing developer Volunteers of America (VOA), a nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, Va. VOA has joined the new Supportive Ser- vices Demonstration for Elderly Households in HUD-Assisted Multifamily Housing at two of its affordable seniors properties. HUD announced the $15 million demonstration program in 2016, asking potential participants to submit applications for the funding. The program uses Medicaid money to pay for the services it provides. A wellness nurse cares for residents at VOA's two properties in the HUD program. That's in addition to the onsite service managers who staff all of VOA's affordable seniors housing properties. "The program is taking advantage of exist- ing home and community services agencies and bringing those services to where people choose to age," says Couch. A number of states have created similar pro- grams by allocating Medicaid dollars to pro- vide services. "Most states have some version of the pro- gram," says Michelle Norris, executive vice president of external affairs and strategic ini- tiatives for National Church Residences, a leading developer of affordable seniors hous- ing based in Columbus, Ohio. "You are going to see a lot of these pilot programs." Historically, developers have tried with little success to finance the construction of affordable assisted living properties through the LIHTC program. "LIHTC investors have a difficult time get- ting comfortable with licensed assisted liv- ing," says Scott Hoekman, senior vice presi- dent for Enterprise Community Partners. "It feels less like affordable seniors housing and more like a medical facility." Consequently, most affordable seniors prop- erties are similar to VOA's Meadows at Mont- bello, which recently opened in Denver. The property includes a service coordinator who can link residents to providers that bring health services to the property. But there is no nurse on site who can provide the level of care that VOA can now provide at its proper- ties that are in the new HUD demonstration program. The shortage of affordable assisted living has left many low-income seniors with fewer options as they age except for nursing homes. "That is where the real gap is — affordable assisted living," says Couch. — Bendix Anderson

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