Michigan assisted living has a lot of lessons for other parts of the country. For many caregivers, the decision to place a loved one in an assisted living facility is difficult. With low-to-moderate-income seniors and their loved ones, money is a central issue. The lack of affordable senior housing is apparent across the nation. With seniors living longer, more space in facilities will be needed in coming years. Many seniors eventually spend time in such facilities as they age in post-surgery care, hospice care, respite care or general living care. This demand on space in excellent care facilities drives up prices, leaving many seniors with either empty pockets or wit a lower level of care. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is piloting an affordable assisted living program that may serve as an example for other states.

What Michigan Assisted Living does to Provide Affordable Housing

The Michigan assisted living program seeks to build developments specifically to house lower-income seniors. Additionally, it aims to provide the necessary support to promote independent living where possible. Every two months, a committee evaluates whether proposed developments meet these standards and offer proper care. This continuous double-checking throughout the process of building and filling these homes ensures ongoing success for new developments.

The MSHDA is not doing this alone. It coordinates with several community improvement-centered organizations, such as the Department of Community Health and the Office of Services to the Aging. The MSHDA makes it a priority to coordinate this affordable assisted living pilot and Medicaid assistance. This means that MSHDA hears from multiple experts across the state. This awareness and community input and support is a strong element of the pilot. As time passes, more evaluations will provide more insight.

Making Facilities Accountable

New facilities that meet the guidelines can apply for a tax credit, making it more cost effective by providing incentives for businesses to build this housing. The comprehensive guidelines regulate how expensive types of housing can reflect the incomes in the area, which types of homes are not eligible, changes in such as nursing homes. They also require tenant service plans to be developed through "Person-Centered Planning" processes. Facilities must also "demonstrate involvement in the planning process by all applicable organizations." This includes senior citizen advocacy groups and local seniors. The result is that all new facilities are accountable and answerable to their communities in the planning and building stages.

Planning for the Future

When considering Michigan Assisted Living, those who have concerns about the lack of affordable assisted living care in an area may wish to contact local government officials to gather a support system around this issue while lobbying for change. Many of the most changes in this type of program are from local and state governments and the financial support they provide in their budgets. Active community participants who articulate these concerns can help pressure government leaders to devote time and energy to this issue. Communities can also help bring improvements to local facilities by raising awareness of those not directly involved in senior care. Communities can even come up with their ownsolutions apart from local government regulation.

Individuals do well to avoid the stress of financial difficulties by anticipating the possibility of assisted living care. Financial planning can be the key to securing money for the later years. Saving money where possible, overestimating costs and strong budgeting habits are good practices. All these things can avoid emergency financial situations later in life when assisted living is needed. Yet it is reassuring that some state and local governments are taking initiatives to provide seniors with affordable assisted living.

Sources

Feiner, Paul. (January 30, 2015). Big Middle Class Issue-Need for Affordable Assisted Living Facilities for Elderly. Town of Greenburgh, New York.Available at http://www.greenburghny.com/cit-e-access/news/index.cfm?NID=36630&TID=10&jump2=0&Print=1. Retrieved August 28, 2016.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Affordable Assisted Living (AAL) Pilot. Michigan.gov. Available at http://www.michigan.gov/mshda/0,4641,7-141-5587_50429--,00.html. Retrieved August 28, 2016.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Medicaid Service Funding Options for Affordable Assisted Living in Michigan. Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Available at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mshda/MSHDA-AAL-Info-for-Housing-Professionals_345294_7.pdf. Retrieved August 28, 2016.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority. (November 30, 2010). Michigan's Low Income Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan. Michigan.gov. Available at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mshda/MSHDA-AAL-Policy-Threshold-Requirements_340043_7.pdf. Retrieved August 28, 2016.

Schuetz, Jenny. (January 2003). Affordable Assisted Living: Surveying the Possibilities. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University for Volunteers of America. Available at http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/jchs.harvard.edu/files/03-1_schuetz.pdf. Retrieved August 28, 2016.

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