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April 6, 2016

Important Information Shared During Fair Housing Webinar

By Mary Ellen Early, LeadingAge Florida Public Policy Liaison

Leading age Florida members had an opportunity to participate in a March 22, 2016 webinar on Fair Housing. The two speakers, Matthew J. Murer and Jason Lundy with the law firm of Polsinelli PC, handle cases against senior living providers alleging violation of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disability Act. If you missed the webinar, the following are a few highlights that might be of interest to you and your marketing staff:
  • So called “advocacy groups” sometimes send “testers” into a senior living community to identify those that are not in compliance with the Fair Housing Act or the Americans with Disability Act. Residential facilities (strictly housing) have the highest risk of having a tester visit followed by continuing care and other retirement communities offering multiple levels of care.
  • Marketing material should avoid using the term “independent.” Photographs in advertisements should be representative of the types of residents you serve, including people with disabilities.
  • A provider may not ask if an applicant has a disability or inquire about the nature of the disability.
  • Continuing care retirement communities may require prospective residents to take an assessment because of the nature of the product which is based on a continuum of care and actuarial modeling. To justify the assessment, the residency contract should include provisions for coordination of services and assessment for the right level of care.
  • A provider may not impose a financial burden such as a deposit or insurance requirement on residents who use scooters or other assistive devices. A resident may not be required to prove that they have a medical need for the scooter. Therapy staff may evaluate the safety of using a scooter if a resident exhibits problems or has a condition that could affect safe use of a scooter. You can also offer orientation and safety classes to residents who use a scooter.
  • Residents may not be restricted from using a dining room because of a disability or restricted from using aides to help with dining unless the resident is disruptive to others or has a condition that affects his or her ability to eat safely.
  • Separate but equal dining is a problem. You may bar residents with infectious disease from the dining room, but you must make reasonable accommodations for residents with disabilities in your dining venues. You may not require a resident to transfer from a wheelchair to a chair, but you may offer cane and walker valeting in the dining room. It should be noted that continuing care retirement communities may adopt policies restricting non-contract holders from using dining venues designated for contract holders and their guests.
  • Residents may not be restricted from using personal aides, but you can establish related policies that ensure the safety of the resident and other residents.
  • If you serve residents whose primary language is not English, you must provide interpretive services. Relying on family or friends is not acceptable when the communication involves important information such as a contract, consent for treatment, or advanced directives. An independent credentialed interpreter should be used in such instances. Interpretive service providers are available by phone. The interpreter does not have to be on site.
  • It is a good idea to keep statistics on the number of residents who use assistive devices to show that your organization serves residents with disabilities.
  • Legal settlements can be very costly in these cases so it is important for senior housing providers to understand case law and what their obligations are.
This information is a small part of what was presented during the webinar and should not be considered as legal advice. If you have questions you should consult an attorney. In addition, LeadingAge Florida will be offering a recording of the webinar for sale in late April, watch for its release. 

 


 
February 18. 2016

OpEd: Legislature Must Provide Sufficient Money For Housing For Seniors
By Steve Bahmer

It’s no secret that Florida has a high population of seniors. The quintessential Florida lifestyle has long been a favorite of retirees. But as we age and become seniors, we encounter new expenses ranging from medical bills to unexpected home repairs, leaving many who are on fixed incomes at risk of losing their home or in search of affordable housing.

Fortunately, there are federal and state programs designed to help Florida’s seniors maintain independence into their golden years. Specifically, the Sadowski programs come to mind, since the Florida Legislature is currently heading toward budget negotiations. In fact, affordable housing for older Floridians has been a mainstay of the Sadowski programs from the time they were created. The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program has allowed thousands of elderly homeowners to stay in their homes by funding emergency repairs and accessibility retrofits, while 10 percent of the funds for the State Apartment Incentive Loan (SAIL) program are set aside for rental developments that serve elderly households.

This is why we, at LeadingAge Florida, became a member of the Sadowski Housing Coalition, joining them in advocating for all housing trust fund monies to go toward Florida’s affordable housing programs. The 2016 Legislative Session is no different, leaving us heartened by the Florida Senate’s recommendation to direct all housing trust fund monies toward housing. We request they hold firm on their position and not waver in their support of affordable housing as they move through the budget negotiation process. Unfortunately, the Florida House of Representatives did not recommend the same funding levels in their budget proposal. As such, we encourage House members to stand in support of much-needed affordable housing and adopt the Senate’s funding position during budget negotiations.

Affordable housing should be a priority for our state where, according to 2014 Census data, nearly one in five Floridians are over the age of 65, with the elderly population only projected to grow. Almost without exception, LeadingAge Florida housing members across the state have long and growing waiting lists of seniors in search of safe, affordable housing. In many cases, those seniors can expect to wait a minimum of three to five years. When you take into consideration that between the 2006-07 and 2011-12 fiscal years, SHIP assisted more than 8,300 households headed by someone age 62 or older, the tremendous need to fully fund these programs and the vast impact of doing so cannot be denied.

At LeadingAge Florida, we aim to expand the possibilities for aging through advocating for affordable housing practices and policies, among others, that help Florida’s seniors maintain their independence. We hope both the Senate and House keep in mind the important role that affordable housing and independent living play in the lives of Florida’s seniors and find common ground on this tenet. And we encourage the Florida Legislature to adopt a budget that ensures all housing trust fund monies go toward addressing Florida’s housing crisis.

Steve Bahmer is President/CEO of LeadingAge Florida, which is a member of the Sadowski Coalition.


February 26, 2015

Sadowski Coalition and Statewide Housing Advocates hold News Conference 

This morning we attended a Media Advisory of the Sadowski Coalition and Statewide Housing Advocates – directive to the Legislature on how to use Housing Trust Funds for Housing.

The press conference was held at the Florida Realtors office at 10:30 a.m. today. Participants included: Jaimie Ross – Florida Housing Coalition; Ted Granger, President of United Way Florida; Theo Anderson, Leon County SHIP Recipient; Jerry Linder, President of the Florida Home Builders Association; Katie Kelly, Florida Chamber of Commerce; Susan Porceau, Big Bend Homeless Coalition; Jayme O’Rourke, Florida Realtors; Al Pasini, LeadingAge Florida; Bobby Bernal, LeadingAge Florida. Habitat for Humanity, Florida Veterans Foundation, and Florida Catholic Conference were also represented.

The news conference was held to alert the media that this coalition represents support for low income housing, the need for which is growing far greater than the ability to provide adequate housing. It introduced the activist coalition that would be working to amend SB586 which revises the statutory distributions of revenues derived from the excise tax on documents (Doc Stamps) to satisfy the Florida Constitutional Amendment #1, water and land conservation that was approved by the voters in November 2014.

The Problem: Senate Bill 586 requires the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to receive 33% of net revenues from the excise tax on documents. The bill maintains the existing effective percentage distributions to the transportation, affordable housing, and grants and donations trust funds, but actual distributions to these trust funds would be reduced because they receive a percentage of the remainder of the revenues after moneys are first distributed to LATF.

The Solution: The coalition will be working with Senator Jack Latvala (R) (S-20), Clearwater, who will be working to adjust the allocations for LATF, affordable housing, transportation, etc., so that they are not subject to a percentage of funds after LATF funds are subtracted. The coalition agrees that there is enough money in the “Doc Stamps” fund to FULLY fund each recipient with money left over in the fund that can go into general revenue. For instance Transportation gets 20%, Housing get 16%, and LATF would get 33% which still leaves money in the “Doc Stamp” fund. At the moment, the current bill SB586 applies each of the percentages to the fund balance after the LATF money is subtracted versus subtracting the amount for each from the excise tax fund.

There were a number of well-connected advocates at the news conference who indicated privately that Housing will ultimately get its share of the money, particularly with Senator Latvala heading up the opposition in the Senate. That said, this bill will be on our lobbyists watch lists.

SB586 will be heard in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, Senator Charles S. Dean (R) (S-5), Inverness Chairman. Senator Wilton Simpson (R) (S-18), New Port Richey is the committee Vice-Chair, other committee members are as follows; Senators Thad Altman (R)(S-16), Cape Canaveral; Greg Evers (R)(S-2), Pensacola; Alan Hays (R)(S-11), Umatilla; David Simmons (R)(S-10) Altamonte Springs; Christopher Smith (D)(S-31) Ft. Lauderdale; and Darren Soto (D)(S-14) Kissimmee.

The only other further caution on the “DOC Stamps” fund is the possibility of future attempts by the administration to cut taxes which could impact the fund generally.

 


January 11, 2013

 

PLEASE NOTE: This past November HUD issued a 60-day notice in the Federal Register, seeking public comments on two Multifamily Housing Service Coordinator forms with a deadline of Monday, January 14, 2013, to comment. If you have already received this notice from LeadingAge forgive me as I just want to make sure our LeadingAge Florida members have seen this notice below.

 

From: Janis, Carissa L
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2012 1:31 PM
Subject: Public Comment Period for Revised Service Coordinator Forms

On November 15, 2012, HUD issued a 60-day Notice in the Federal Register, soliciting public comments on two Multifamily Housing Service Coordinator forms. HUD is proposing revisions to the Semi Annual Performance Report (HUD-92456), which includes a new Glossary (HUD-92456-G). The Department is also proposing a new form to be used by field office staff to perform Service Coordinator program reviews (HUD Staff Program Review Checklist, HUD-92455). This form will provide a consistent protocol for the review and evaluation of Service Coordinator programs in HUD’s Multifamily Housing properties.

The revised forms will apply to any Service Coordinator program supported by HUD funds and operating in subsidized Multifamily Housing properties designated for the elderly and/or people with disabilities. The proposed forms are provided for public comment only. Service Coordinators must continue to use the current version of the Semi-Annual Performance Report until such time as the new form takes effect. At that time the form will show a valid expiration date.

Please carefully read the Federal Register Notice for guidance on when and how to submit comments on the proposed forms. Please consult HUD's website for a link to the Notice and to download the proposed forms.

Interested persons are invited to submit comments through January 14, 2013, and should send comments to:
Colette Pollard, Departmental Reports Management Officer, QDAM, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Washington, DC 20410.

For questions about the proposed forms, please contact me.

Feel free to forward this email to others. Everyone’s comments are welcome.

Thank you,
Carissa Janis
Housing Program Manager
Office of Multifamily Housing Programs
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW, Room 6152
Washington, DC 20410
Office: (202) 402-2487
Fax: (202) 708-3104
Carissa.L.Janis@hud.gov

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