New York Times: Crisis Looms for Senior Housing

Assisted living communities that aren’t hitting the mark with customer service are part of a much larger crisis in senior housing, contributing opinion writer Ariel Arieff wrote in The New York Times’ Sunday edition on Jan. 29.

Senior living providers will be familiar with the points raised by Arieff, including that affordable options are all too scarce. While acknowledging that there has been “some progress” in improving senior housing options over the past few decades, she noted that these communities are available mainly for those with lots of money or very little money. And she shared a brutal assessment of the service at one high-end property:

“A colleague of mine, bemoaning the lack of attention and care at his father’s pricey assisted-living center, put it this way: ‘It’s not like they’re worrying about cultivating repeat customers.’”

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Most seniors want to age in their own homes, but this isn’t a great option, either, given the social isolation and physical dangers of living in single-family homes that were not designed well for aging, according to Arieff.

One issue that could be of particular interest to senior living developers is the high concentration of aging Americans living in suburbs. This where 91% of population growth has occurred in the last 15 years, and there are serious impediments to creating more senior living options in these places, Arieff wrote.

Zoning laws need to be one major area of focus, considering that most suburbs do not allow any non-single-family housing, whether that’s a multiunit project or a “seemingly benign granny flat,” she argued.

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Zoning was put forward as a key issue in a separate piece on affordable senior housing, which aired Monday on NPR’s Pittsburgh station, WESA.

“We believe the most important tool is inclusionary zoning,” Developer Jonathan Rose said. “New York City now says that if you want a zoning variance automatically the starting point is that 30 percent of the housing has to be affordable.”

Rose’s firm, Jonathan Rose Companies, is spearheading a project to acquire five Pittsburgh-area properties to turn them into affordable senior housing.

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Click here to read the entire NYTimes column.

Click here to read the WESA report.

Written by Tim Mullaney

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