December 8, 2016

Healthy Aging Begins at Home

Yesterday, Enterprise’s New York office and LeadingAge New York co-hosted “Healthy Aging Begins at Home,” a symposium on healthy senior housing. The event was attended by 140 people and featured experts from the health field and housing field discussing how to better ensure seniors can age in place safely and in an affordable home.

Enterprise’s New York market leader Judi Kende welcomed attendees and highlighted the importance of the issue, noting the increasing number of rent burdened seniors and their particular vulnerabilities.

Dennis Shea of the Bipartisan Policy Center illustrating just how dire the need is for affordable senior housing with services in his keynote address:

  • Fifty percent of adults over age 65 require some sort of service, but Medicare does not pay for aging in place services, and compounding the problem,
  • 1.8 million senior households in the U.S. are severely rent-burdened.

Dennis presented policy and capital recommendations to combat senior homelessness and rent burden, such as funding existing HUD 202 homes; creating a new federally-funded senior housing program; and integrating programs from the housing and medical fields to better meet the needs of seniors.

Financing the Next Generation of Senior Housing

The first panel, moderated by Cheryl Gladstone of DeutscheBank, focused on how the next generation of senior housing will be financed, how the housing and health fields can better work together and the institutional barriers that prevent better coordination between the fields. Panelists Rhonda Frederick of PEOPLE, Inc., David Gilcrist of Project FIND, Nancy Eldridge of the National Center for Healthy Homes and Robyn Stone of LeadingAge.

During the panel, Ms. Eldridge shared that New York State has a goal of reducing avoidable hospitalizations by 25% and argued that we can only do this by empowering housing to be a platform for public health.

Regarding how to finance senior housing, Ms. Frederick suggested creating better incentivizes for developers to build senior housing, such as providing points in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit applications for building senior units. And given older adults’ desire to remain at home but limited support networks, Mr. Gilchrist noted that in-house social workers are critical for aging in place safely.

Equipping Senior to Successfully Age at Home

Panel two, moderated by Stuart Kaplan, CEO of Selfhelp Community Services discussed the services seniors need in order to successfully age at home and ways that senior housing providers can ensure that residents can access these services and avoid social isolation.

Panelists included RuthAnne Visnauskas of NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Mark Kissinger of the NYS Department of Health, Carol Raphael of Manatt Health Solutions and James Clyne of LeadingAge New York.

Keeping Seniors out of Nursing Homes

Ms. Raphael asserted that managed care must start to care about the home, since the home is where the majority of high-cost health emergencies occur. Noting the high expense of nursing homes, Mr. Clyne argued that there need to be greater incentives to keep older adults out of nursing homes for as long as possible. Mr. Kissinger echoed earlier praise for social workers, remarking on just how much value basic social work adds to the healthcare system.

Ms. Visnauskas praised NYS Office for the Aging’s resident advisor program and noted that it would be great to partner that program with HCR capital. Mr. Clyne urged the state to think about potential high cost users versus current high users, providing the example that if a residential coordinator can prevent two falls, the coordinator pays for itself. Ms. Raphael called for not just age-friendly housing, but age-friendly communities, complete with affordable homes, accessible transportation, services and other amenities.  

How to Tell Your Representative How Important Senior Affordable Housing Is

LeadingAge New York’s John Broderick and Enterprise’s Xiomara Pedraza concluded the event with a concrete call to action for attendees. Enteprise, LeadingAge New York and other senior housing advocates are calling on New York State to make a substantial investment in new and existing senior housing, with necessary supportive services so that more low-income seniors can age in place.

We urge everyone to let your elected officials know that you support funding for affordable senior housing and supportive services in the upcoming state budget.

Text: HOUSING to 52886

Enter your name and address and letters will be sent automatically to your representative elected officials. We thank you for your support in helping ensure that all seniors have access to an affordable home where they can safely age in place.

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