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What We're Reading in Health and Housing, June 19

Welcome to What We’re Reading in Health and Housing. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) launched a Health and Housing Task Force earlier this year. We are sharing recent publications, speeches and testimony we consider relevant to our work. The views expressed in these pieces do not necessarily represent the views of the task force, its co-chairs, members, advisors or BPC.

Compiled by Nikki Rudnick, Katie Golden and Jake Varn


How Housing Matters: Prolonged Housing Crisis Diminishes Confidence in the American Dream
By the MacArthur Foundation

“A significant majority of Americans believes the country is still not past the housing crisis that began seven years ago, according to a new survey of housing attitudes released today by MacArthur.

“Despite some improvement in their view of the housing situation nationally, the enduring sense of the housing market under pressure is reflected in the public feeling more worried and concerned than hopeful and confident about what the future holds for the country. Americans believe it is harder than it used to be to attain a secure middle-class lifestyle and significantly more likely for a family to fall from the middle class than to join it.” Read the press release. Read the full report.

The Silent Housing Crisis A Snapshot of Current and Future Conditions
By J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families

“Today, nearly six years after the Great Recession officially ended, our nation’s housing system remains in a state of crisis. Soaring rental demand, an acute shortage of affordable rental homes, significantly tougher mortgage under-writing standards, and an uneven economic recovery have all combined to make housing a source of distress and instability for millions of Americans. With little relief in sight, growing numbers of families find them-selves stuck between a rental market they can no longer afford and a homeownership market for which they do not qualify.” Read the full report.

“Taking Better Care: Supporting Well-Being for an aging Population”
By The Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP)

“ACHP features case studies from five community health plans using innovative ways to improve care for frail elderly patients. Learn how:

  • Geisinger Health Plan reduced emergency department and inpatient admissions, and achieved a 20 percent per-plan enrollee-per-month cost reduction.
  • Priority Health achieved a 38 percent decrease in inpatient stays, a 52 percent decrease in emergency department visits and a 46 percent decrease in specialty visits.
  • Fallon Health created a specialized product for frail seniors that 100 percent of members would recommend to their friends and family, using one of the only plan-owned PACE centers in the country. Navicare achieved a per-member, per-month cost savings of $128.
  • Kaiser Permanente tested a pilot initiative in Colorado to stimulate conversations between patients and their physicians about key safety risks. KP Colorado Medicare members report that 70 percent who completed the program within the last year addressed issues with primary care providers they may otherwise not have discussed.
  • Presbyterian Health Plan reduced readmission rates and lengths of stay in the hospital for members in their Hospital at Home program.”

Read the full report. Read the executive summary.

Older Adults: Federal Strategy Needed to Help Ensure Efficient and Effective Delivery of Home and Community-Based Services and Supports
By the Government Accountability Office

“In the three localities GAO visited, local area agencies on aging, assisted by other community-based organizations, took the lead in planning and delivering services and supports for older adults, paid for with a mix of federal, state, and local funding. An Atlanta organization employed home-care aides for older adults and delivered meals. Senior housing developments across the three localities connected more frail residents to in-home services. In San Francisco and Montgomery County, grassroots organizations known as villages provided help with errands. Officials in two localities reported that flat funding of certain state funds, combined with the growing number of older adults, has resulted in waiting lists for affordable housing and in-home services.” Read the full report.

Best Cities for Successful Aging
By Anusuya Chatterjee and Jaque King, Milken Institute

“As a growing population of older adults emerges, timeworn notions of aging no longer fit. Older adults are staying in the workforce longer and anticipating more meaningful ‘golden years.’ New attitudes about work, health, housing, education, transportation, and other needs are evident. Millions of aging adults are upending convention, seeking to remain active and contributing members of their communities. A revolution in the ‘culture of aging’ is underway.

“Cities are on the frontlines of the challenges and opportunities that accompany this revolution. How U.S. cities and their leaders deal with these realities will affect not just the course of millions of individual lives, but more broadly our ability to build a better America.” Read the full report.


Housing America’s Seniors: More Affordable Supply, More Innovation Needed
By Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez, Bipartisan Policy Center

“As America’s senior population expands, it should come as no surprise that the average age of households served by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is rising too. Providing housing assistance for low-income seniors is fast becoming a major part of HUD’s mission, the result of powerful demographic trends that are transforming the country.

“According to HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, the share of HUD-assisted households headed by someone 50 years of age or older has increased from 45 percent in 2004 to 55 percent in 2014. This trend is reflected in all three of HUD’s largest programs: Forty-seven percent of households served by the Housing Choice Voucher program are now headed by seniors or “near seniors,” with even greater shares for public housing (54 percent) and the project-based section 8 program (63.4 percent).” Read the full blog post.

Addressing the nexus of housing and healthcare
By Allyson Schwartz and Mel Martinez, Modern Healthcare

“Looking ahead, a key issue is how best to finance home and community modifications to make independent living a viable option. If we consider that falls are the primary cause of injury and injury-related deaths for those 65 and older, taking preventive steps to make our homes and communities safer should lead to better health and cost savings. Investments in public infrastructure that are safe and accessible are essential as well.

“Complicating the desire to age in place will be the need of many seniors for long-term services and supports?that is, help with normal everyday activities such as bathing, dressing and medication management.” Read the full op-ed.

A Home at Last: How 2 very different Maine towns work to meet the incredible demand for senior housing
By Dan Macleod, Bangor Daily News

“In 2013, Maine’s median age of 43.9 was the oldest in the nation. It also has the greatest share of residents aged 55 and over.

“And as the population ages, those who live on fixed incomes ? like Social Security ? spend more of that income on their mortgage, rent or repairs. In some cases, their homes are simply too big for them, or they’re too costly to heat in the winter, advocates say.” Read the full article.

More Older Americans Are Being Buried by Housing Debt
By Paul Wiseman, Associated Press

“Of all the financial threats facing Americans of retirement age ? outliving savings, falling for scams, paying for long-term care ? housing isn’t supposed to be one. But after a home-price collapse, the worst recession since the 1930s and some calamitous decisions to turn homes into cash machines, millions of them are straining to make house payments.

“The consequences can be severe. Retirees who use retirement money to pay housing costs can face disaster if their health deteriorates or their savings run short. They’re more likely to need help from the government, charities or their children. Or they must keep working deep into retirement.” Read the full article.

Alternative Aging
By Harold Brubaker, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“New Courtland Senior Services Inc. used to be Philadelphia’s biggest nursing home operator. Now it is gearing up to keep people out of the city’s 7,500 nursing home beds.

“In January, it paid $2.1 million for the former Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in East Falls, to make it senior housing, and it’s aiming to expand to Northeast Philadelphia. This all comes after selling five of its six nursing homes in 2011.” Read the full article.

Once seniors are too old to drive, our transportation system totally fails them
By Joseph Stromberg, Vox

“Once seniors stop driving, those who remain in suburban homes are marooned in an environment designed to be traversed by car. The most obvious problem, says Stephen Golant, a gerontologist at the University of Florida, is access to goods and services.

“But seniors who are isolated also have worse health outcomes and lower life expectancies, even after adjusting for preexisting health conditions and other factors. This may be because they’re less likely to get health advice and monitoring from family and friends and also because they miss the emotional benefits of regular human contact.” Read the full article.

California Sees Housing as Significant Investment in Health Care
By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News

“Mari Cantwell, deputy director of the state health care services department, said health care and housing traditionally have been in distinct silos. ‘We are really trying to look at the whole person,’ she said. ‘And our belief is that this will improve health care and reduce costs.’

“Under the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands of homeless residents who previously didn’t qualify for government health insurance became eligible for Medicaid. Federal health officials suddenly became responsible for many people with longstanding illnesses, including mental disorders and substance abuse. Realizing the potential costs, they began considering different ways to help patients without overburdening taxpayers.” Read the full article.

Let’s get the conversation started: 2016 presidential candidates must address America’s silent housing crisis
By Scott Brown and Henry Cisneros, Fox News

“This month marks the sixth anniversary of the official end of the Great Recession, yet our nation’s housing system remains mired in a state of crisis. Rising rents and diminished access to homeownership are squeezing millions of families. Many now find themselves facing an unaffordable rental market and a homeownership market for which they do not qualify.

“The troubling housing situation in our country deserves far more attention than it receives today. It is largely overlooked by the media and strangely underestimated by our nation’s political leaders. It is very much a ‘silent’ crisis.” Read the full article.

Interview: Former Secretary Henry Cisneros
By Rebecca Costa, The Costa Report

“For the first time in the history of mankind, the first time in recorded human history, more people in urban areas around the world than in rural areas? people have migrated to these great urban metro centers. It is the makeup of the new global economy that is more urban in character, people are coming for the jobs. The question is, will this be better for mankind? Is it possible to imagine an urban future? Where people can work, live, trade, worship, gather, recreate, in places that are conducive for good quality human lives. That is the challenge before us. We have to make this moment of urban opportunity, for global change, a positive thing all around the world.” Listen to the full interview.

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