LeadingAge Magazine · May-June 2018 • Volume 08 • Number 03

Meeting the Challenge of Affordable Housing

May 16, 2018 | by Gene Mitchell

From the editor: a look at this issue of LeadingAge magazine.

Today, when we meet at conferences or launch studies, discussions about “housing plus services” typically begin with the need to bring more health care to housing residents. The greatest challenges relate to working with Medicare and Medicaid, coping with multiple providers and health plans, and figuring out how to fund a reliable level of services that we believe will keep residents independent and healthy longer.

For a good statement of the problem, I urge you to read an article on the LeadingAge website, “Taking Steps Toward Financing Housing Plus Services,” by Alisha Sanders of the LeadingAge Center for Housing Plus Services. She spells out the situation very clearly, and explains the barriers to reaching this goal.

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell

But if we look at “services” more broadly, oh my. LeadingAge members are providing services left and right. And this isn’t new, either. I talked with many members while putting this issue together, and many times was told about how their founders had committed them to housing and services 30, 40 or more years ago. The services provided have evolved, as have the mechanisms, but the mission has stood the test of time.

Our Vision column is a podcast, “Testing Affordable Housing Plus Services Innovations.” It’s a conversation with LeadingAge member Kim Brooks of Hebrew SeniorLife and Elissa Sherman of LeadingAge Massachusetts about a couple of Bay State initiatives designed to study housing plus services models.

In “Housing Plus Services: Providers Make the Most of Opportunities,” you’ll meet some of those members I referred to—people who are always on the hunt for new ways to serve residents. They are bringing residents valuable wellness programming, creating activities that help build community, finding partnerships to connect residents to health providers, and much, much more.

A home is a launching pad for many other good things. Most of us take that for granted, but those who have lived on the street never will. In “Housing for Seniors Without Homes: The First Step in a New Life,” read about members who are helping at-risk elders and those experiencing homelessness.

Housing providers are giving their buildings some love, too. They are adopting energy-efficient building standards and technologies, and making their resource use more sustainable. The three-headed goal is to improve residents’ quality of life, look after the Earth, and save a little money too. Read “How Affordable Senior Housing Providers are Greening Their Properties.”

Property managers and service coordinators work hard to help bring needed resources to people living on very little money. For some older adults, however, poor money management skills exacerbate the problems already caused by low incomes. Read “Financial Counseling for Low-Income Seniors” to learn about some resources to that can help.

The Positive Impact Loop: Creating a Person-Centered Culture,” is a reflective column from Stephen Proctor, CEO of Presbyterian Senior Living and a past recipient of the LeadingAge Award of Honor. He shares his experience in building a positive culture throughout his large organization.

Another member-written article, “Body and Mind Benefit From Music Therapy Program” tells the story of how one member uses music therapy and the positive results it has wrought.

Finally, the always popular “People We Serve” series brings us “Singers, Survivors and Award-Winning Staff.” Keep those stories coming!

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.