Drawing on its years of experience studying housing-with-services models, the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research is working in partnership with the Virginia-based Lewin Group to design a housing-with-services demonstration program by Spring 2012 for the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Operational Insights from Case Studies
LeadingAge has already developed a conceptual framework for housing-with-services models as part of the ASPE grant. That document outlines the policy issues associated with housing-with-services, sets broad parameters for the soon-to-be-designed demonstration and specifies the research and practice questions the demonstration will seek to answer. The Center is now in the process of collecting information from a variety of sources to fill out that framework and design a demonstration that, if funded at a later date, could help researchers measure whether housing-with-services models actually improve health and quality of life among older residents while saving health care dollars.
By early June 2011, Center researchers had completed site visits to several housing providers that are currently incorporating services into their communities. Four LeadingAge members participated in the site visits:
- Cathedral Square Corporation in Burlington, VT.
- Peter Sanborn Place in Reading, MA.
- The Marvin in Norwalk, CT.
- Tower One/Tower East in New Haven, CT.
Researchers also visited Lapham Park in Milwaukee, WI, and Mable Howard Apartments in Berkeley, CA. Lincoln Square, a naturally occurring retirement community in New York City, will be included in a future site visit.
“We wanted to learn about how their programs work, who their partners are and how they are working together,” says Alisha Sanders, senior policy research associate at the Center for Applied Research. “We also were looking to identify their successes and challenges and the kinds of barriers they have encountered. Our ultimate goal is to identify the critical elements and components that need to be included as we design a demonstration. We also wanted to identify the lessons these progressive housing-with-services providers learned as they rolled out their programs so we can incorporate those lessons into the demonstration.”
During individual site visits researchers met with property managers, service coordinators and other property staff as well as executive, administrative and frontline staff from the housing property’s service partners. They also interviewed representatives of local and state public funding agencies when applicable. As the Center for Applied Research evaluates and synthesizes the site visit findings it will also be working closely with a 15-member technical advisory group composed of housing providers, outside researchers, service providers and government officials.
Population View from Merged Database
In addition to the demonstration program design, the groundbreaking ASPE project calls for the first-ever merging of a number of databases from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. When combined with the case study findings, that hard data will offer researchers a unique view of the populations living in affordable housing buildings.
“Both sets of information will work together very nicely,” says Sanders. “The database will help us know who the population is and to think about the types of interventions that they are going to need. And the case studies will give us valuable insights into how you actually operationalize these interventions in a way that’s successful.”
The project is funded by the ASPE at HHS, the Administration on Aging, and HUD.