November 2, 2017

Symposium Seeks to Redefine Housing for the Aging Population

Second annual symposium on healthy senior housing

The need for affordable senior housing, especially in New York, is great. Years of stagnating wages, little to no increases in Social Security and rising housing costs have exacerbated the housing crisis for low-income seniors.

A 2016 analysis by Enterprise’s Make Room campaign found that over 300,000 seniors paid more than 30 percent of their income in rent statewide; nearly 200,000 paid more than 50 percent. In the coming years, these figures will only continue to grow.

Enterprise, in collaboration with LeadingAge NY, hosted the Second Annual Symposium on Healthy Senior Housing on October 19 to push for more affordable senior housing and elevate innovative housing models, including homes with services designed to keep people healthy as they age in their own homes. The symposium convened stakeholders and thought leaders to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities around appropriately caring for New York’s next generation of seniors.

The symposium began with keynote addresses from Dan Heim, Executive Vice President at LeadingAge NY; Lynne Patton, Regional Administrator for Region II of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and Nancy Rockett Eldridge, Well-Home Network Director at the National Center for Healthy Housing. Participants attended roundtables and discussion on the following topics:

  • Innovative Models of Housing with Services: How Have They Achieved Success?
  • Overcoming Obstacles to ‘Housing as Health Care’: A Discussion with Leaders in New York State Government
  • Health and Community Service Integration: An Overview for Housing Providers
  • Housing Development 101: An Overview for Health Care Providers

All presenters and sessions focused on the integration of and overlap between housing and health care. There is an increasing understanding that the housing and health care fields are intimately connected, which presents an opportunity to use housing as a platform to improve healthcare outcomes, especially for low-income older adults.

The symposium brought people together across sectors, connecting the disciplines of housing, architecture, health care and urban planning to coordinate a response to the needs of our growing senior population.

Housing and health care providers face several challenges when supporting seniors. Access to operating funds, the amount of time and resources needed to cobble together funding sources to support development and services, capital needs for preservation and the inability to track resident usage of health care were all listed as barriers to providing high quality support. However, there have been promising results from housing models that employ a part-time nurse and full-time service coordinator, as well as programs that are located near or co-located with hospitals or clinics.

Through the symposium, participants developed several calls to action, including:

  • Create a national data platform to share resources, research and advocacy efforts
  • Amplify senior voices in advocacy work
  • Establish a dedicated rental subsidy for low-income seniors  

A final call to action is one that everyone can help with: we are calling on Governor Cuomo to include $10 million in the 2018 state budget to fund critical resident service coordination over the next five years. You can add your support by texting AGEINPLACE to 52886.

Thank you to all the participants who were able to join us for this year’s symposium. Meeting the needs of seniors in New York State will require resources and commitments from a wide variety of stakeholders, and we look forward to addressing this challenge to ensure that older adults can age comfortably, safely and with dignity.

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