As the owner of 540 affordable housing apartments in four downtown buildings, Cedar Sinai Park is prepared to create a housing-with-services program to enable low-income seniors to age in place.
In late December, CSP was slated to purchase Park Tower from the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation and Lexington Apartments from the Schnitzer family, which recently donated Park Tower to the OJCF. The two HUD Section 8 housing projects join CSP’s Rose Schnitzer Tower and the 1200 Building, purchased earlier. Portland State University conducted an assessment of resident needs at Rose Schnitzer Tower. The results of that study were the impetus to develop housing with services. PSU will soon conduct similar assessments at CSP’s other properties.
“The idea is to develop services with specific needs in mind,” said CSP CEO David Fuks. “I think each population may have some nuances (in terms of needs).” “We’ve been working toward creating a housing-with- services model for a few years,” said Fuks. “The service project is coming to life. The idea is to develop a consortium of providers to allow residents to age in place, to not use hospitals for routine health care, and to receive treatment and support for substance abuse and mental health issues.” Since all four affordable housing buildings are within a five-minute walk of each other, Fuks said CSP is seeking funding through the Department of Human Services to renovate the commercial space in the 1200 Building to create a health and social services center for the four buildings. That center would include space for various service providers including caseworkers, home care staff, health care providers and mental health workers. He said 2013 will be a planning year with implementation set for 2014.
CSP is one of 11 groups working to develop models for housing with services. LeadingAge, a national association of 6,000 not-for-profit senior care organizations, is coordinating the collaboration. Fuks said the groups plan to learn from each other during the development process. Since CSP hopes to be able to adapt the model to provide services to Jewish seniors aging at home, Fuks said Jewish Family & Child Service and Sinai Family Home Service are participating in the model. In addition, because those agencies will be involved with the health center for the downtown buildings, Fuks urges any Jewish seniors who need or anticipate needing affordable housing to get on the waiting list for the four CSP downtown buildings.
Fuks said CSP decided to get into the affordable housing business for several reasons: to meet the Jewish demand for low-income housing, to practice tikkun olam by addressing that same need in the general community, and to provide a revenue stream to support the low-income seniors living at Robison Jewish Health Center on CSP’s campus in Southwest Portland. Fuks said that 52% of the nursing home residents are on Medicaid, 37% are private pay and 13% are short-term rehabilitation care recipients funded by Medicare or through HMOs. The revenue from the apartments will also be used to help pay off the bond debt CSP expects to have when it builds a new nursing home and renovates the existing nursing facility at RJHC. “The revenue from running this real estate successfully will make a tremendous difference to Cedar Sinai Park,” said Fuks.
That was the intent when Jordan Schnitzer suggested CSP acquire Clay Tower (later renamed Rose Schnitzer Tower) in 2007. Having sat on the CSP board for 16 years, Jordan said he was well aware of the deficit between Medicaid payments and the cost of caring for those residents at Robison Home. He said he felt the revenue would be a good supplement to the income generated from the for-profit assisted-living center, Rose Schnitzer Manor, which CSP had built on its campus under his leadership. Fuks praised real estate developer Jim Winkler as the genius behind the acquisition of the four downtown buildings. Will Cedar Sinai stop at four buildings of Section 8 housing downtown? “Yes,” said Fuks. “Dayenu (enough).”