Editor: Breana Clark
A Note From the Chair: Seth Riklin
I am genuinely excited to welcome you to the first edition of our Senior Housing Committee’s Newsletter. This is just the latest effort to tap into the new energy of our Committee.
For those of you who attended our conference in Houston, you know about the new energy and momentum, because you experienced it first-hand. Thanks to Mark, Janel and Bre, as well as the hard work of the boards at Goldberg B’nai B’rith Towers and Pasadena Interfaith Manor, Houston hosted a great conference. We had many great speakers, including from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Southwest Housing, that shared the latest developments with the attendees. I also want to share how excited I am to have Abbie Stone as vice chair, as she brings her infectious passion for senior housing. With the changes coming to Washington as a result of the election, we will need all of the passion and energy we can muster, as HUD is challenged from the top down.
The traditions, made while working together on senior housing, are coming back as we plan our next conference. Thanks to Dennis Rice and Art Fentin, who have been instrumental in our housing efforts in South Florida. Tentatively, we will be returning to Deerfield Beach during the first weekend in December. There is no place better to be when the cold sets in than South Florida. With the wealth of senior agencies and experts on aging, the 2017 Conference promises to have more new, interesting speakers to keep us all engaged.
Finally, the energy and excitement from the Houston Conference has reignited interest in hosting our annual conference, with a number of buildings having expressed interest in hosting. We will allow them all to make presentations to our Committee. Let the competition begin!
We ask for your help and your ideas for new ways to engage the boards and management of all our buildings in the Network. With your help, together we hope to double the attendance for our 2017 Conference. Remember, HUD allows for training expenses to be included in your building’s annual budget.
Senior Housing Conference in Houston
By Breana Clark
Sessions included: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) training from Southwest Housing Compliance; the recent election and what to expect from the incoming Administration; creating programming opportunities and stimulating volunteering in the building; HUD’s homeless initiative; creating community partnerships; contract review; risk management; and file documentation. We also heard from a panel about their experiences building effective relationships between the board, management and residents.
On Nov. 13, participants toured Goldberg B’nai B’rith Towers and Pasadena Interfaith Manor. Residents and staff warmly and enthusiastically greeted visitors, and some residents even opened up their apartments for tours. A highlight of the evening was an entertaining murder mystery dinner provided by the local hosts. A rousing time was had by all!
As part of the Center for Senior Services ongoing partnership with the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund, participants stuffed emergency preparedness kits for the Houston and Pasadena residents. These kits help residents better prepare themselves for a natural disaster. Residents can now easily evacuate their homes with their medications and important documents.
The Center for Senior Services thanks the hosting communities for all of their hard work in order to ensure a great meeting, and for the feedback we received from participant evaluations.
We look forward to seeing everyone in Deerfield Beach, Fla., for the 2017 B’nai B’rith Conference on Senior Housing. Look for details soon
Resident Extraordinare: Lili Cao, Goldberg Towers
By Angie Futch
She started taking classes at Goldberg Towers and practiced day and night. She excelled at everything and soon learned how to edit photos and make collages. When she learned how to order prints from Walgreens, there was no stopping her! She soon had the community room filled with pictures of residents in all the different programs that went on. But not only that, all of the residents learned her name quickly because they knew who to contact when they wanted their pictures made. Lili always made sure everyone got a print.
Lili soon joined the Residents' Council and is now the treasurer. She also puts together the Powerpoint presentations for every meeting and dinner. She still attends every program and is a translator for many of the other residents with limited English. She recently helped with the B'nai B'rith Conference on Senior Housing held in Houston. For the tour of the property, Lili took pictures of the attendees and made sure the prints were ready for pick up the next day. She has such a giving spirit and willingness to please.
The Towers residents and staff enjoy all that Lili does and know that the programs and events at the Towers will be fuller because of her involvement!
On the Hill
By Alayna Waldrum
Trump made it clear he plans to “repeal and replace” the ACA in his first 100 days in office. While Trump has not released many details about his plans for Medicare and Medicaid, he has indicated he is in favor of “reforming” them and has met with House Speaker Paul Ryan on his proposals for the programs. Ryan has encouraged “premium support” in place of the existing Medicare program and block granting Medicaid to the states. Seniors rely heavily on Medicare for routine healthcare, prescription drugs and rehabilitation services. Medicaid is the primary source of funding for long-term care services for low-income seniors. This includes nursing home care and waiver programs that allow people to live in the community.
Additionally, Trump selected Seema Verma as the administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Verma is a health policy consultant who worked closely with Vice-President-elect Mike Pence on the rollout of the ACA in Indiana, as well as the state’s Medicaid expansion efforts.
FY17 Continuing Resolution to Run Through April
At the incoming administration’s request, Congress will hold off on completing the 11 remaining appropriations bills for FY17 until after the inauguration. President-elect Donald J. Trump and his administration want an opportunity to weigh in on the federal funding levels. The 2017 fiscal year started on Oct. 1, 2016. Government programs are currently funded under a continuing resolution (CR) that will expire on April 28, 2017, so final appropriations levels will not be set until seven months into the fiscal year at the earliest. Continuing resolutions apply to discretionary funding and typically provide funding at the previous year’s levels.
Discussions with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials have been mixed as to whether the CR funding would be sufficient to cover all existing funding obligations, such as project-based rental assistance and service coordinator grant funding. The Senate will have a packed calendar confirming administration nominations, so it will take some time to get on the calendar to deal with the remaining appropriations bills. It is possible that Congress may eventually opt for another CR in April to fund the remaining months of FY17. B’nai B’rith International will continue to monitor discussions and urge full funding for senior housing and services programs.
B'nai B'rith International Provides Input and Supports HUD Transition Plan
B'nai B'rith International joined other housing advocates in a comprehensive U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) transition memorandum sent to President-elect Donald J. Trump's transition team. The memorandum highlighted the importance of federal housing programs, the need for a strong national housing policy, and the role of HUD programs in helping seniors age in place. The detailed memorandum was part of a collaborative effort by the Campaign for Housing and Community Development (CHCDF). The CHCDF is a broad coalition of organizations focused on the HUD budget and promoting the role of housing as a vital component of our national infrastructure.
B'nai B'rith International's priorities, the Section 202 housing program, service coordination and project based rental assistance (PBRA), are covered extensively in the document. The goal of transition documents is to give the incoming administration and HUD appointees a sense of industry concerns, priorities and programmatic issues that need to be addressed. Read the CHCDF transition memorandum here.
B'nai B'rith International Joins ACTION Campaign Letter to Support LIHTC
The ACTION Campaign advocates protecting and expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. With severe cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget in recent years the LIHTC program is the largest funding source for affordable housing in the country. Although the program does not serve the lowest income households, it has become a key source for preservation dollars to rehabilitate older Section 202 and 236 properties. The election of Donald J. Trump significantly increases the chance that comprehensive tax reform will be a major legislative initiative in the coming year. House Speaker Paul Ryan has long been promoting a tax reform plan that would cut taxes in a number of areas affecting business. Although there has been no mention of cutting or eliminating the LIHTC program, the goal of decreasing tax burdens in some sectors means there will have to be shifts to "pay for" such a move. Housing advocates are concerned that LIHTC could be vulnerable and are working hard to demonstrate the integral role this program lays in housing low and moderate income people.
Learn more and read the letter here.
Building Highlight: B'nai B'rith Covenant House of Tucson I & II
Left to right: Jean Kern, resident council secretary; Jan Rowand, resident council vice president; Teresa Wachala, service coordinator; Rene Verdugo, resident council present; Abbie Stone, board president; Marshall Herron, board secretary; Reda Anna, manager; and Matthew Apostolik, certified financial planner, senior vice president for Merrill Lynch, a Bank of America corporation.
Via press release from B'nai B'rith Covenant House of Tuscon I & II
In honor of Giving Tuesday, Bank of America has given B’nai B’rith Covenant House (BBCH) in Tucson a grant for $10,000. The funds are designated for nutritional supplements for the Covenant Closet. The Closet provides non-perishable food to residents. BBCH is so fortunate to receive these funds for the 120 people who call this building home. BBCH is a 62 and older Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) facility and our residents are all too frequently in need of supplemental nutrition and other items to maintain their well-being.
Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, is in its 5th year. It is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It was created by a team from the Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City. Since 1874, this center has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back.
On behalf of our residents, the Resident Council, BBCH staff and our Board of Directors, we sincerely thank Bank of America for their generosity!
Past Expert Blog: How We Train and Empower Senior Housing Resident Associations
By Janel Doughten (Originally posted on the B’nai B’rith Subject Matter Expert Blog on 8/3/2015 with a few updates
Can be accessed here)
If you were retired and living in an apartment community, would you want to live in a building totally isolated from your neighbors, or would you want to live in a vibrant community with a wide variety of programs and activities? Wouldn’t you want to live where you and your neighbors could get to know one another, and are able to provide one another with mutual support through the good times and bad?
Luckily, in the B’nai B’rith Senior Housing network, a dedicated group of resident volunteers makes sure it is the latter, through their individual buildings’ Residents Council or Residents Association.
The membership of each Residents Council is comprised of all the residents in that particular building. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Council is the voice of the community, and acts as a liaison between management and the residents, as well as between the residents and the general neighborhood. Another significant role for every Council is to create programming and activities for the tenants. The Councils develop and carry out programs which they feel will improve the social and economic status of their residents.
Moreover, the Council truly enhances the “quality of life” in their respective housing developments, creating a sense of community, shared responsibility and inspiring residents to have a feeling of civic pride in their homes. A key part of this is involving all members in the planning and execution of activities, whether it is an ice cream social or a senior prom.
Senior housing communities that have a well functioning Residents Council, besides just benefiting the residents, will also have benefits for management. Working together on solving community problems allows management to have a better, more satisfying relationship with its tenants, creating a sense of respect instead of mutual distrust. Management can work with the Council to combat problems that affect all residents, such as residents propping open outside doors, people not cleaning up after their dogs or any other issues that can impact people living in such close proximity. Although not required, HUD is very supportive of these Residents Councils.
Recognizing how important these associations are for the tenants, Mark D. Olshan, Ph.D., director of the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services, created a program 30 years ago to provide training for these resident leaders of the B’nai B’rith buildings. The first Resident Leadership Retreat took place over three days. Over time, staff realized that it was such a wonderful experience, and with so much to learn, the retreat was eventually expanded to six days.
The retreat takes place every other summer at B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp, located in the scenic mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, and is open to two residents from each of our U.S. and Canadian housing communities. One of the best parts of the program is that the retreat takes place while the young campers are still there.
The retreat features a variety of workshops conducted by staff from the B’nai B’rith Center for Senior Services including: how to run a tenants’ association, how to plan activities and programs for their fellow residents, how to recruit and retain volunteers, how to write newsletters and ideas to celebrate the diversity in our buildings. Sessions also provide icebreakers encouraging participants to network and learn from one another. A highlight of the camp experience is the opportunities for intergenerational activities with the elementary through high school population at camp. These programs include Israeli dancing and singing lessons, Shabbat services and various social events.
But that’s not all. The program is designed to be a memorable experience not just for the seniors who attend, but to be a benefit to all of the residents of our housing communities. Each participant is given the opportunity to learn skills so that when they go back to their buildings, they are able to make a difference in the lives of their fellow residents with a strong Residents Association. Make certain your building is represented.
The next B’nai B’rith Resident Leadership Retreat will take place from Aug. 2 to Aug.8 2017.
Tech Tutor Tip: Confused by Ads?
By Breana Clark
Advertisements that appear on devices ranging from computer desktops to smartphones can be nothing short of frustrating. While you may be familiar with the traditional pop-up ad; you might have also observed images dancing across your screen; experienced automatically playing videos; or even banners that conceal and move as you scroll. Unfortunately, these problematic designs were meant to be persistent. Not only are they confusing, they can seemingly ruin your experience when using a personal device. Often, advertisements can completely cover the websites you’re using or appear to be a part of an article you are reading.
Though seniors or those newly acquainted to using technology may blame themselves for a frustrating experience, users of all ages and experience cite the same frustration from accidental clicking or pressing while navigating their own device. Since it is very easy to accidentally press or click on ads, use the following tips to guide your experience:
Ways to remove and stop web based ads from ruining your experience:
If you believe that you’ve accidentally clicked or pressed an ad, you can take action based on the following circumstances:
Center For Senior Services Newsletter
Welcome to the B'nai B'rith Center for Senior Services quarterly newsletter, Senior Report.