EXPERT OPINION: A Conversation with Laverne Joseph

March 25, 2013

In this "Expert Opinion" interview, Dr. Laverne Joseph, President and CEO, Retirement Housing Foundation, discusses affordable senior apartments, constraints on growth, service coordinators, Washington, and more......

Watch the video      Read the transcript

Dr. Joseph has served as the President & CEO of RHF since July 1987 and prior to that, he served for a year on the Board of Directors of the organization. In his leadership position, Dr. Joseph is responsible for the implementation of board policies, for collaborating with the Board of Directors and senior staff to develop the RHF strategic plan, and for monitoring that plan.

He serves as Chief Executive Officer of RHF Management, Inc., and Foundation Property Management, Inc., as well as president of all solely sponsored RHF affiliated corporations. He is responsible for recruiting and supervising senior staff members and assures quality management and financial performance. He is the Corporation’s primary spokesperson with churches, government agencies, and provider associations.

He has served on the board of directors and the house of delegates, and chaired the housing committee of LeadingAge (formerly the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), a national association of nonprofi t providers. He chaired the office building task force for LeadingAge, and has also served as chair-elect and chair of Aging Services of California (formerly the California Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), the state affiliate of LeadingAge.

He has been asked to speak in front of Congress on numerous occasions and has served, as a delegate-at-large, on the White House Conference on Aging.

Previously, Dr. Joseph served as senior pastor of Peace Memorial United Church of Christ in Palos Park, IL and was executive director of several facilities for the care and housing of senior adults.

He received his B.A. from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA, a B.D. and an M.Div, both from Lancaster Theological Seminary.


Contact Information:
Dr. Laverne Joseph
911 N. Studebaker Road
Long Beach, CA 90815

Watch the video of the interview: 


Read the interview transcript:

Steve Monroe
I’m sitting here today with Laverne Joseph. He's the president and CEO of Retirement Housing Foundation. RHF has over 165 properties, probably one of the largest not-for-profits in the country in seniors housing.

Laverne, RHF today operates more than 165 communities, mostly affordable apartments for seniors. Where do you see the future growth of RHF?

Laverne Joseph
I think we will continue to grow on the affordable side, provided that we have the financing to continue that growth. The reason I say that is, in the late 70s and early 80s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development was funding 20,000 new units of construction for 202 senior affordable housing annually. In the current budget, if it's passed, there's about $50 million which will fund perhaps 350 units nationwide.

Secondly, in California, as you probably have heard, the state did away with the redevelopment agencies. Their tax increment dollars, which annually amounted to about $5 billion a year, 20% of that, equal to $1 billion had to be spent on affordable housing. Those dollars are no more.

So the only viable program that we have is the tax credit program and we're certainly hoping that won't go away.

Steve Monroe
Financing obviously is going to be a constraint on growth. Is there anything else?

Laverne Joseph
I'm not aware of anything else. Of course, the reality is that, while in tax credit, let's use a round number, let's say the market rate for a community is $1,000 and you can produce a tax credit community for $800 a month in rent, if a senior is only on Social Security and maybe that Social Security is about equal to $800 a month, they cannot afford to live there unless there's a subsidy. So that would also be a constraint.

Steve Monroe
It sounds like it's going to be a little tough, especially with our current budget problems in Washington. The money's not going to be flowing very easily.

Laverne Joseph
I don't think it's going to be tough for national providers like us, because we continue to grow, not only by construction, but also by affiliation. As single site providers realize that the regulations and the kinds of things that they want to do, they simply don't have the human or financial resources to do it. So we're growing by affiliation, as well.

The people that it's tough on are the people that we care about and they're the most important people and that's the people who live in our communities.

Steve Monroe
Now, we all know that the demand probably in the next 10 to 30 years is going to be the highest for affordable senior housing, affordable assisted living. Do you think for-profits should get into that business?

Laverne Joseph
I think there will be more for-profits getting into the business, but I don't know that it will be really significant. I'm not being prejudicial, but there simply is not the bottom line in affordable housing that there is in upscale CCRCs.

Steve Monroe
Yeah, well, that is true. Not in your assisted living, but your affordable apartments, what are you doing about aging in place?

Laverne Joseph
In about 80% of our communities, we have what is called a social service coordinator. We have the supervisor in our national headquarters in Long Beach that works with them. Those service coordinators connect the residents with low-cost or no-cost services within the communities as the residents need them. They're there to assist. They don't provide the care directly, but they help residents find the care.

One of the stories that I've been trying to get legislators to understand, even though we provide skilled nursing and assisted living in about 20 communities, we can keep residents in affordable housing with service corrdinators for about 30 to 35 percent of what it would cost them to be in a skilled nursing center. Which, for a low-income senior, is the only other resource available to them when they really need services. I'm not sure the story is yet being fully understood, but I think of necessity it will be as the age tsunami sweeps through.

Steve Monroe
Unfortunately, I think that's the problem is we're going to be suffering through a period of rationing. And the way to ration it is to not give additional money—even though it's cheaper, but the nursing beds are not increasing the numbers so it's something to fall through the crack.

Laverne Joseph
It's going to be a challenge, there's no doubt about it.

Steve Monroe
Well, I think, given what you've done, with all your years in RHF, I hope you're up to the challenge.

Laverne Joseph
We'll keep trying.

Steve Monroe
Keep trying, all right. Well, thanks for updating us.

Laverne Joseph
Good talking with you.





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