HousingWorks RI using grants to develop 10-year plan for senior housing

BRENDA CLEMENT is the director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University, a nonprofit research group that recently received funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island to develop an in-depth strategy for senior housing in Rhode Island. / PBN FILE PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PROVIDENCE – With funding from two of the state’s major health insurance companies, the nonprofit research group HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University is taking an in-depth look at the housing needs of seniors in the Ocean State.

HousingWorks RI, which formed in 2004 and became a part of Roger Williams University a decade later, is now developing a 10-year strategy that delves into the housing challenges facing older people living in Rhode Island, while providing suggestions on how to improve conditions for the senior population.

The plan is being developed over the next two years with funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Tufts provided a two-year grant totaling $120,000, while Blue Cross committed $60,000 for one year, with the potential to renew that commitment for the following year, according to HousingWorks RI.

“I hope this results in actions that improves outcomes for people,” said Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University. “That would be the real investment in my view.”

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The research and strategic plan will delve into the availability of senior housing, congregate care settings, accessible transportation options and services that allow people to age in place in their communities.

“We’re trying to look at the spectrum of need as people age,” Clement said.

The financial tumult and health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a greater awareness of the lack of affordable and accessible housing options for seniors, Clement said.

“We had challenges before COVID hit,” she said. “But I think COVID has highlighted the critical need for us to address housing, particularly for our seniors.”

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

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