Author Archives: Joanne Handy

The Birth of an Idea

In early 2010, Aging Services of California partnered with the California Association for Health Services at Home to sponsor a joint informational hearing at the California State Capitol. Originally, the hearing was intended to educate members of the legislature and their staff about innovative ways that technology could be used to help older adults age in place. Although we anticipated a fair amount of interest – our state is, after all, home to Silicon Valley – the attendance far surpassed our expectations.

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Recognizing Excellence

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of all the great work the members of Aging Services of California do each and every day. Trying to figure out how to provide quality care for older adults in the face of an ever changing landscape, we understandably tend to focus on the challenges more than the successes. That’s why I was so excited to learn recently that one of our members was recognized nationally for their work.

PEP Housing, a nonprofit that develops and manages affordable housing with services for older adults and people with disabilities, was awarded the 2011 MetLife Foundation Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing for Casa Grande Senior Apartments in Petaluma, Calif.

Casa Grande is not only a “Build-It-Green” certified project, it also is the first green-rated multifamily affordable housing community in Sonoma County. I had a chance to tour Casa Grande last month, and let me tell you, I was impressed. PEP has been able to  drastically reduce its electricity and water usage while providing the nearly 60 residents with a safe, decent and affordable place to call home. In many respects, they have created a new standard for what it means to develop affordable housing.

PEP Housing was one of only four organizations in the United States to receive the MetLife Foundation Award. The foundation also has honored Aging Services members in previous years. In 2010, Satellite Housing was recognized for its work on St. Patrick’s Terrace in Oakland, Calif. And in 2009, two members received the award: Episcopal Senior Communities for Mission Creek Senior Community in San Francisco and Mercy Housing California for Lytton Gardens in Palo Alto, Calif.

We in California like to think of ourselves as innovators who help set the agenda for the rest of the country. Whether it’s in the development of affordable senior housing or the delivery of home and community-based services, we pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve.

It’s great to see others join us in recognizing the passion and commitment with which our members fulfill their missions.

Joanne Handy
President & CEO
Aging Services of California

Aging Services Meets with CMS Office of Integration

Jack Christy and I had the chance to meet with Melanie Bella, Director of the CMS Office of Integration, when she was in California this week. CMS has funded California to plan the Dually Eligible Managed Care Pilot, in which persons eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal, will be enrolled in managed care plans. CMS intends managed care organizations to integrate all services needed for this population, including long term nursing home care. Providers serving dual eligibles in the pilot would be interfacing directly with health plans rather than dealing with Medicare or Medicaid as they do now.

Celebrating 25 Years

Yesterday, I visited Spring Lake Village in Santa Rosa, an Episcopal Senior Community, for their 25th Anniversary celebration. Close to 20 of the current 300+ residents have called Spring Lake home since the day it opened. Elected leaders, one after the other, spoke about the involvement of Spring Lakes’s residents in the Santa Rosa community, volunteering and giving back to their neighbors. It was eminently clear that Spring Lake Village is highly visible and treasured in their community. Congratulations to Sharon York, Executive Director, her team, and all Spring Lake residents.

Life After Mission Ridge

My guess is that most of you have never heard of Mission Ridge, let alone just how close  it came to being the epicenter of an event that could have fundamentally changed aging services.  Four years ago, the small continuing care retirement community in Billings, Mont., underwent a tax-exempt bond audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Following the audit, the IRS determined that entrance fees collected by Mission Ridge were really replacement proceeds from a tax-exempt bond used to finance its construction – and therefore were yield restricted.

What does that mean exactly? I decided to ask Mary Muñoz, the managing director for senior living finance at Ziegler Investment Banking. Mary offered the following analogy: “Say you’re the CEO of a nonprofit with a dedicated, segregated pot of cash saved for a future project. Investment rates are high, borrowing rates are low, and you decide to invest the cash at 6 percent, then turn around and borrow at 4 percent for your project. If you did that, your nonprofit would be prohibited from keeping the 2 percent in earnings because the cash is treated like bond proceeds, which legally may not earn a return above the yield.”

Bottom line: The IRS interpretation in the Mission Ridge case threatened the viability of all CCRCs financed with tax-exempt bonds.

In early February – after no less than nine separate attempts to prove its case – the IRS finally ruled in favor of Mission Ridge. I talked to the CEO, Kent Burgess, last week. While relieved, he expressed concern for what the future might hold for the entire field of continuing care retirement communities. The Mission Ridge case is one of a handful where the IRS is questioning the tax status of nonprofit providers of senior living and care. Now I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of thing that keeps me up nights. This case reminds us that how we care for older adults today might not be how we care for them tomorrow. As we contemplate the future of aging services, we must remain ever vigilant.

The Year in Review at Aging Services: Summing Up 2010, Gearing Up for 2011

Many of you have no doubt read the books Built to Last and Good to Great by Jim Collins. In both, he talks about a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) as “a huge and daunting goal – like a big mountain to climb. It is clear, compelling and people ‘get it’ right away. It serves as a unifying focal point of effort, galvanizing people and creating a team spirit as people strive toward a finish line. It captures the imagination and grabs people in the gut.”

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LA Valleys Region Leadership Change

Aging Services of California’s LA Valleys Region outgoing chair Bob Moses with incoming Chair Bev Kitchel, Director of Resident Services at Westminster Gardens in Duarte, an SCPH community.