Supportive Senior Housing

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Marc A. Slotnick and Paul McPartland
Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development

The Supportive Senior Housing program is a recent initiative designed to bring some of the essential benefits of assisted living developments to more than 3,000 residents of 22 selected state-funded elderly public housing developments across Massachusetts.

Jointly developed by the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Supportive Senior Housing program helps seniors maintain their independence and “age in place.” The program provides all residents with supportive services such as service coordination, 24-hour onsite personal care staff, a daily meals program, and structured social activities. Additional services, such as personal care assistance, transportation, medication management, housekeeping, shopping and laundry service, are provided to qualified seniors based on income and need, and are available for purchase by all other residents on a sliding fee scale.

A small annual subsidy to each site that averages under $60 per apartment per month from Elder Affairs funds the program, which seeks to both improve the quality of life of all residents as well as save state funds by reducing the number of frail residents who need to transfer into subsidized care in nursing homes.

Assuming an average state subsidy cost of $1,981 per month for a nursing home and $821 for an assisted living placement,1 the annual savings for each individual able to live independently in Supportive Senior Housing, rather than in a subsidized assisted living or nursing home unit, is enormous. If the program is effective at keeping even six individuals in a hypothetical 150-unit elderly housing development out of a nursing home, the $101,160 savings more than justifies the $90,000 subsidy required to bring the program to the development.2 Just as importantly, it brings an enhanced level of services to the other 144 seniors living in the hypothetical development at no additional cost.

About the Authors

Marc A. Slotnick is Associate Director of Public Housing and Rental Assistance at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Paul McPartland, Asset Management Coordinator, Division of Public Housing and Rental Assistance, DHCD. This paper was submitted jointly by DHCD and the state Executive Office of Elder Affairs, co-developers of the Senior Supportive Housing program. Officials of both agencies are pictured below.

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