Senior living congregate apartments are an industry now with three branches: independent living (nothing to do with disability), assisted living and memory care. The last two are for elders needing some medical care and have to be certified by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. However, independent living, a profit-making arm, needs some regulation, transparency and fairness, and needs to follow existing Massachusetts discrimination laws.
Discriminate vs. Income Source – no rent subsidies, federal or state, accepted – “private pay” – but rent subsidies MUST be accepted according to the Mass. law (but there’s a 20-year wait).
Why unwarrantedly huge annual rent increases? Rental agreements state annual rental increases, but residents were verbally told “not to worry” that “rent increases only the same as Social Security check increases.” So why is the average rent increase annually $1,000-$1,500? A fixed-income resident can only maintain three years of these increases before it is necessary to move to low-rent housing authority, to the streets, wherever. Or many tenants die during this period, then rents can be boosted up for the new tenant, increasing profits as building and services deteriorate. Required food service deteriorates to deli meats and cream sauces, not good for elder digestion or nutrition, but they’re cheap.
The rental cost of an apartment is not disclosed separately from services (food, cable TV, etc). Even if one were fortunate to receive a rental subsidy, it could not be used without quote of rent apart from services – a resident could sign an agreement to continue paying for services while rental subsidy covered all or a large part of the rent.
I live at Fairview Estates, a Hawthorn Senior Living (Vancouver, Washington) corporation apartment building for elder congregate but independent retirement living.
Hawthorn Senior Living operates Fairview Estates (Hopkinton), The Highlands (Westborough), Magnolia Heights (Franklin), Heatherwood (Tewksbury), and the newest, Camellia Gardens (Maynard). Another corporation operates Artisan at the Hudson (Hudson). These, and most others that I know about, all have the same problems – the “private pay” (only the rich may live here), the annual large and possibly unwarranted rent increases, diets not designed to be particularly healthy or digestible, non-disclosure and transparency of rent prices, as apart from services, no certification or oversight or regulation and no trade group for independent living to turn to.
State and federal government must delve into this boondoggle to provide fairness, transparency, certification of these buildings in independent living so that elders, increasing in population, can rent in confidence. Costs to operate buildings and services (separately) must be transparent, without unwarranted profit making and over-expensive new building construction by the corporate owners.