Delivering Dignity to Colorado's Elders

In 2014, Capital Impact Partners worked in partnership with the Loveland Housing Authority to open Colorado’s first ever GREEN HOUSE® Project. A radical new model for skilled nursing care, Green House homes are designed from the ground up to look and feel like a real home for 10-12 elders, returning control, dignity and a sense of well-being to its residents and their families.

Built on the campus of the Mirasol Senior Living Community in Loveland, this innovative alternative to the traditional nursing home features six separate 7,500 sq. foot homes with private rooms and bathrooms, combined with a family-like atmosphere of open common spaces. The Green House Homes at Mirasol are uniquely licensed together as one skilled nursing facility and able to provide its residents - a large percentage of whom are Medicaid eligible - specialized twenty-four hour nursing care.

Photojournalist Jason Houston visited the homes several times after they opened to document the daily life of the residents and staff. Here's what he experienced.

Julia and Fred were the first couple to move into the Loveland Green House Homes. They followed several staff who worked with them at a nearby care facility, not knowing what they were getting into, but knowing they wanted a change from what they described as a “run-down and depressing situation.” The staff they followed were friends but have now become their family in what they feel is a “wonderful situation.”

Julia remarked to me, “I was blown away by the bathroom—can’t get a better advertisement than that!”

Erwin struggles with his short-term memory. It resets about every 30 minutes, so I found myself having to often re-explain why I was there in the home visiting. Yet, he recalls his youth, his time in World War II and life with his wife with a storyteller’s passion and attention to detail.

His wife is in the Green House home next door. She’s struggling with dementia and he says she’s not always nice to him. But they have been married 70 years, and he says he understands. He visits every day, and if she’s still asleep he quietly crawls in bed with her and lays with her as she sleeps.

Don and Kay were moving in with the help of their son, Greg. One of their two rooms would become their bedroom and the other their private living room. Part of the move-in process is working with the house “Sage” – named Pat (seated in middle). She is 80 years old and lives in the nearby independent-living condos. She volunteers to work as a liaison between staff and residents, helping newcomers become acquainted with how it all works and taking note of preferences, ranging from when they like to bathe to any special meal requests.

Sam Betters, the Executive Director of the Loveland Housing Authority, partnered with Capital Impact to bring the first Green House homes to Colorado. In a lighthearted moment with Penny Wise, Capital Impact’s de facto mascot, he gave me a behind the scenes account of that process, the support of the many partners involved and how they utilized a unique financial tool called New Markets Tax Credits. This U.S. Treasury program is designed to encourage investments in projects that benefit low-income people – of which there are many in this group of Green House homes. He was clearly grateful for the support of Capital Impact who he saw as more than just a normal lender. “They provided the critical financing, expertise and most importantly, the hand holding that consummated in the successful closing of our transaction. There were times during our due diligence process that this project looked like it was going to come apart at the seams. It is when the going gets tough that the true character and value of your partner is demonstrated. We couldn’t have done this project without the assistance provided by Capital Impact Partners.”

As Julia took a break from preparing for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to mug for the camera, it was clear to me that even though she and her fellow residents were dealing with the limitations of growing older, the Green House home provided many opportunities to ensure a full life.

All pictures © 2015 Capital Impact Partners / Jason Houston

2014 Dignified Aging Impact Highlights

Provider Location Financing Impact
Center for Elders’ Independence Oakland, CA $1.25 million refinancing Financing support for nonprofit program delivering comprehensive health and related services to low-income frail seniors

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly model intended to keep seniors out of high-cost nursing homes while providing community-based health and social services
Innovative Development and Living Solutions of California Clovis, CA $175,000 predevelopment financing Working capital to develop and operate affordable senior assisted living facilities targeted to low-income seniors
Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute Bronx, NY $1 million line of credit Working capital for organization that promotes quality direct-care jobs as the foundation of quality care for older adults who need home or residential care