Front Porch and Covia to Affiliate, Creating 54-Community Organization

Two California-based senior housing nonprofits, Front Porch and Covia, have agreed to affiliate with one another.

The two organizations’ boards of directors voted to affiliate on June 1. The affiliation would create a combined organization with 54 senior housing communities. Front Porch was ranked no. 22 in total unit count in the latest LeadingAge Ziegler 200 list, while Covia ranked no. 47. As a combined organization with 4,408 units, they would have ranked no. 10 in the 2019 list.

Covia CEO and President Kevin Gerber and Front Porch CEO John Woodward plan to remain at their posts, and both organizations plan to act independently until the transition period is over, which is expected in early 2021. The new combined organization will initially retain the Front Porch name, with Woodward as CEO of the combined entity and Gerber stepping down once the affiliation is complete.

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The move to affiliate was not spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, but instead was meant to help the two organizations achieve greater scale in the Golden State and therefore better serve older adults there, according to Kari Olson, Front Porch’s chief innovation and technology officer.

“This helps us have scale and purchasing power, as well as to manage costs and spread overhead across a larger base of communities,” Olson said. “All of that adds to our financial strength as well as our ability to create new options to have enhanced access to capital.”

Front Porch and Covia are the latest in a number of senior housing nonprofits which have looked to mergers, affiliations and other forms of collaboration as a way to gain scale and thrive. Recent examples of the trend include the affiliation between HumanGood and Presby’s Inspired Life, the affiliation of Acts Retirement-Life Communities and Integrace and the 2018 merger between the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and non-profit health system Sanford.

The organizations are immediately focused on an integration plan and have not hammered out an agenda in terms of what the first goals would be for the combined entity to accomplish, Olson said. However, they are aligned in terms of their cultures and see the potential for growth in several areas. Front Porch has made technology and innovation a focus in recent years through its Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing. That focus will continue into the combined organization. And, the two companies have already collaborated for the past four years on new ways to bring tele-mental health services into affordable housing settings.

“Innovation is a priority in both cultures today, and that creates a really strong jumping off point for the future,” Olson said. “We’re just ready to ramp up on an existing and strong relationship and see what else we can do.”

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