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Posts Tagged ‘communities & banking’

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Photo: Military.com
Finally, assisted living for older veterans. With new models, Medicaid can help older vets postpone the step into a nursing home.

When I was checking out a retirement place recently (for a vague, distant time when my husband and I are not as healthy as we are now), my guide asked me if either of us had been in the military. She said there is now some federal money that an older vet can tap.

We would not be eligible, but the question rang a bell, and I remembered that when I was an editor, I solicited an article about the first New England assisted-living facility for older vets. Prior to Veterans Landing in Connecticut, an elderly veteran who needed only a little support had to go straight into a nursing home even if she or he were largely independent. It was either that or pay out of pocket for assisted living.

Here, in part, is the 2012 Communities & Banking article “Housing for Veterans: A New Model.” It was written by Lisa Conant, of the Hartford-based Community Renewal Team Inc.

“Connecticut’s veterans are rapidly aging. Nearly 75 percent of the 222,632 veterans living in the state are older than 55.1 With each passing year, this population encounters more health issues and more challenges with daily living. Military conflicts of recent decades have left many with grave injuries, extensive medical needs, and behavioral health issues that are sometimes severe. Although these veterans may not need a nursing home right now, many would benefit from an assisted-living arrangement. Unfortunately, such housing is beyond many veterans’ budgets.

“Now a new model of affordable residential care is being pioneered in Connecticut to help low- and moderate-income veterans maintain independence as long as possible — while easing the burden on the veterans health-care system.

“A Hartford-based community-action agency, Community Renewal Team Inc. (CRT), is teaming up with the Veterans Administration to create Veterans Landing, a new assisted-living facility expected to house 103 older veterans and their spouses. Veterans Landing is modeled on an affordable CRT facility called The Retreat-assisted living that includes programs to help residents continue to enjoy life and contribute to their community.

“The Retreat is part of a state-initiated pilot project designed to determine whether assisted-living services could be provided successfully to very low-income, Medicaid-eligible elderly or disabled individuals. The answer is positive.

“Working with the Connecticut Department of Social Services and four other state agencies, CRT developed a funding structure that leverages existing resources to offset construction and operations costs- and residents’ expenses. Most medical fees get paid by Medicaid or Medicare, and rents are offset with subsidized-housing certificates from programs such as the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority’s rental assistance program (RAP).

“It’s a new concept. Normally, assisted-living residences are available only to those who can cover the costs privately. Medicaid pays for nursing homes, but not for assisted living. The average monthly cost for a Connecticut assisted-living facility is around $4,600 and can range up to $8,000 per month-more when extra fees are added. …

“The Retreat pilot shows that when state assistance follows the person to the level of care appropriate for his or her needs, it can pay for other services — not only a skilled-nursing facility but home care or assisted living. Low-income people who would benefit from assisted living are therefore not forced prematurely into nursing homes merely so they can become eligible for the subsidy. Of the 344 seniors living at The Retreat in September 2011, 147 had either moved out of nursing homes or had avoided premature nursing-home placement. Meanwhile, the facility is saving Connecticut millions of dollars every year. …

“Now veterans, who might in the past have received care in a section of a hospital or nursing home, will be able to have a dedicated facility with the same advantages that Retreat residents enjoy. … Veterans Landing will be the first assisted-living residence in New England to focus solely on veterans over 55-and one of the first nationwide. …

” ‘There’s a brotherhood among veterans,’ says Laurie Harkness, who runs the Errera Community Care Center for VA Connecticut Healthcare. ‘When people are part of the military culture — particularly in a combat zone where they depend on one another for their survival — an amazing bond develops.’ ” More here.

 

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I’ve mentioned before that John is active on the Arlington Tree Committee. He’s been behind a major push to inventory the town’s trees, aided by local government support and the legwork of many residents.

Other members of the committee have been using Facebook to link to interesting research on the value of trees to communities.

Science Daily, for example, reported on a study by Adam Dale et al. of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) suggesting the best ways to keep trees healthy and sustain their economic value.

“Heat from city sidewalks, streets, and parking lots, along with insect pests, can damage trees planted in urban landscapes. Thus, it is critical to plant trees in the right places so they will do well in harsh urban environments, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

“More than half the world’s people and 80 percent of the U.S. population live in urban areas. Trees benefit these residents by filtering the air, reducing temperatures and beautifying landscapes. According to a new study led by Adam Dale, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology, these benefits are reduced when trees are planted in unsuitable urban landscapes. However, guidelines can be developed to lead urban tree- planting decisions in a more sustainable direction.” Check out the researchers’ “Pace to Plant” technique here.

At the Toronto Star,

“Using data from Toronto, a team of researchers has found that having 10 more trees on your block has self-reported health benefits akin to a $10,000 salary raise or moving to a neighbourhood with a $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger.

“By comparing satellite imagery of Toronto, an inventory of trees on public land and general health surveys, the team, led by University of Chicago psychologist Marc Berman, found that people who live on a tree-lined block are less likely to report conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease or diabetes.

‘Their findings appeared [in 2015] in the open-access journal Scientific Reports.” More at the Star here.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that research social scientist Kathleen L. Wolf has written extensively on the value of trees: for example, in this Communities & Banking article on how “the urban forest” benefits local businesses.

Photo: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS
Numerous studies show trees improve health and quality of life in communities and make shopping at local businesses more appealing.

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MilfordStreet is on WordPress, and we’ve been clicking “like” on each other’s posts for a while. His Boston-area photography has been especially noteworthy.

Recently he announced he was leaving his job to teach for several months in El Salvador, after which he would get a master’s that he hoped would enable him to find work teaching English as a second language back in the States.

Wow. I’m so impressed.

Now he is creating blog posts about El Salvador. In “Too Young,” he writes about the school children he teaches who have to work in markets and restaurants to help support their desperately poor families.

The post from MilfordStreet referenced Humanium.org (an international child sponsorship NGO dedicated to stopping violations of children’s rights throughout the world), which called to mind a children’s rights movement in the United States.

Michael Schmidt in Communities & Banking magazine describes increasing efforts to ensure that proposed governmental and other policies don’t inadvertently harm children. He provides these elements of a child-rights impact assessment:

A description of the proposed policy; a description of how it is likely to impact children; an indication of whether it is consistent with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child; identification of any disagreements over the likely impact on children; where adverse impacts are predicted, how they might be avoided or mitigated; an indication of the report’s limitations; parents’ and children’s views; a description of what the measure could have done instead and what needs to be monitored and evaluated after the decision has been implemented; explanations of conflicts (that is, where the interests of children conflict with the interests of others); an analysis of the proposed legislation or policy that weighs the costs and benefits associated with children’s well-being.

Check it out.

Photo: Milford Street

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One place that refugees are making a life for themselves is in Kansas City, Kansas, where some are bridging their current and former lives through farming.

Oluwakemi Aladesuyi reports at National Public Radio, “In the midst of boxy yellow and brown public housing, beyond the highway and past empty grain elevators, sits Juniper Farm. It’s spread over nine acres on the Kansas side of Kansas City.

“As their children play on the grassy knoll behind us, four women sit at a plastic picnic table speaking in Karen, a language spoken in parts of Myanmar [Burma].

“They’re students at a program called New Roots for Refugees. The program aims to teach the basics and business of farming [in America] to refugees over the course of four years. At the end, many of the graduates are ready to start farms of their own.

“It’s a joint effort between Catholic Charities and Cultivate Kansas City, a nonprofit that encourages locally grown food and urban agriculture. …

“Many of the men and women at New Roots come from Myanmar or Bhutan. Some were farmers in their homelands. But farming on the outskirts of Kansas City is different: the land, the crops and even the weather. …

“Many who’ve come here are happy to have escaped violence. But adapting to life in a new country, with a different language and customs, is still difficult. Many refugees struggle economically. …

“August Gaw [is] 25 years old and often translates for her mother, Beh paw Gaw, who graduated from New Roots a few years ago. …

“August used to come here to help her mother. But now Beh paw has her own 3-acre farm which she runs with her sister. Last year the operation made more than $10,000. The potential to make money is important; many refugee families live below the poverty level.” More here.

Read the story if you have time. One striking aspect: farm manager and adviser Sam Davis, an African American, experienced real intolerance when moving to Kansas from Arkansas, but to one of the Karen women, who had seen extreme isolation of different ethnic groups in Myanmar, America seems prejudice-free.

You might also be interested in this article on Karen people who were relocated to Waterbury, Connecticut. Written by John Giammatteo, it appeared in Communities & Banking magazine in 2012.

Photo: Oluwakemi Aladesuyi/NPR
Beh paw Gaw is a New Roots graduate and a Karen refugee from Myanmar. Now she has her own three acre farm which she runs with her sister.

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John (founder of www.mistersmartyplants.com) is a member of Arlington Tree Committee. He figured out a way to use Google Maps to identify heritage trees in town and got a sign made to encourage residents to adopt a thirsty tree.

Now that so many urban and suburban areas have taken down their trees to make construction projects easier, people are realizing what they’re missing.

Many have noted that trees play a role in residents’ mental and physical health.

University of Washington research social scientist Kathy Wolf has studied the health aspects and also has economic arguments. She has shown that an “urban canopy”  makes local shopping more agreeable for customers and lends vitality to downtown business districts. Read what she has learned, here.

Chris Mooney at the Washington Post notes other research. “In a new paper published Thursday, a team of researchers present a compelling case for why urban neighborhoods filled with trees are better for your physical health. The research appeared in the open access journal Scientific Reports.

“The large study builds on a body of prior research showing the cognitive and psychological benefits of nature scenery — but also goes farther in actually beginning to quantify just how much an addition of trees in a neighborhood enhances health outcomes. The researchers, led by psychologist Omid Kardan of the University of Chicago, were able to do so because they were working with a vast dataset of public, urban trees kept by the city of Toronto — some 530,000 of them, categorized by species, location, and tree diameter — supplemented by satellite measurements of non-public green space (for instance, trees in a person’s back yard). …

“Controlling for income, age and education, we found a significant independent effect of trees on the street on health,” said Marc Berman, a co-author of the study and also a psychologist at the University of Chicago. “It seemed like the effect was strongest for the public [trees]. Not to say the other trees don’t have an impact, but we found stronger effects for the trees on the street.”

Thank you to my high school classmate, Susie from Cleveland, for putting the Washington Post article on Facebook.

071115-Arlington-Tree-Watering

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