Every day 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. In California the senior population will likely double by 2030, leaving perhaps a million people needing assistance to care for themselves. For seniors in affordable housing, assisted living can be out of reach.
“People are what we call 'trapped in the gap,'” explains Meredith Chillemi, director of aging and education services at LifeSTEPS, Inc. “They have a high rent compared to their income, but don't qualify for Medi-Cal.”
Bridging the gap
Chillemi and LifeSTEPS have partnered with USA Properties, a developer specializing in building and managing affordable family and senior communities, to launch the Older Adult Services RN Program in the Sacramento area. The program makes a full-time registered nurse available to three communities to provide medical services.
“We're passionate about senior housing,” says Geoff Brown, president and CEO of USA Properties Fund Inc. “Our residents cannot afford assisted living. A program that helps them age in place is a pretty cost-effective way to deal with that.”
“The RN Program can be easily replicated throughout the country in affordable housing,” Chillemi says. “It's not that pricey compared to the cost of future health care savings. We're also meeting financial goals as a society, improving population health, and helping people have dignity; everyone's worst fear is going to that nursing home.”
“This is just going to be a big challenge for our society,” says Brown. “We want to scale the program in terms of getting funding. We want to be able to do more senior projects that incorporate this, to find a consistent funding source that will believe in it and say, ‘What can we do to create more communities like this'?”