LeadingAge Housing Provider shares plans to continue lease-ups, retain staff during crisis

Members | April 07, 2020 | by Juliana Bilowich

During the April 7th LeadingAge coronavirus daily update call, affordable housing provider David Smart shared perspectives from two senior living communities located just west of downtown Denver.

On the LeadingAge daily coronavirus update call, David Smart, the CEO of Eaton Senior Communities located in Lakewood, Colorado, outlined how his communities are continuing to provide a service-enriched living environment for residents. With two properties on a shared campus, Eaton Senior Communities serves both HUD-eligible and middle-income seniors in 225 units.

The HUD and tax credit community converted an assisted living facility to independent living in 2018, but kept the previous facility’s stock of personal protective equipment (PPE), a move that has paid off and has so far allowed the campus to avoid dipping into reserves during this critical time.

As shelter-in-place orders have heightened the need for housing access, Smart and his teams have continued to market units and move in residents. Their 64-unit community, which focuses on serving middle-income Coloradans, is at 60% occupancy after its recent re-opening. With a heavy emphasis on service provision, the communities have elevated built-in support networks on their campus and highlighted opportunities to stay virtually “connected” with staff and other residents to combat isolation.

In order to retain staff and keep operations flowing, the company has continued to pay employees for full-time hours, even after following a state order to cut workforce hours and keep some staff at home. The company plans to make use of the Small Business Administration financing options to keep up with payroll and even offer “appreciation pay” to hard-hit teams.

Many housing and health providers face an uphill battle to pay for unmanageable costs as they take extra hygiene, security, and health precautions. LeadingAge continues to advocate with federal agencies and lawmakers in Congress for more funding and relief for aging services providers.

More than one thousand aging services providers attended the call, which is available as a recording here. The daily calls, which provide up-to-the minute policy and operational updates for health and housing providers battling COVID-19 at their communities, are hosted live at 3:30 EST every day through April 26th. For more info and to register for the calls, visit the LeadingAge COVID-19 webpage here.