What is the Green House Project?
The Green House Project is an innovative model for senior living that rejects the notion that all residents should be housed in one large building. Instead, Green House residences utilize a network of smaller buildings designed to give the look and feel of regular homes. Green House locations typically house 6-12 residents per location, compared to over 150 of a typical senior care facility. The concept is that this model promotes individuality and dignity in an aging population, providing more access to outdoor spaces, and low occupancy facilities.
Benefits of the Green House Project
There are many benefits to this model, particularly in how they compared to larger homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. During COVID, Green House Projects were able to effectively protect their residents from infection. In fact, out of over 2,600 residents in the model, only 6 deaths occurred due to COVID-19. This great reduction in illness extends beyond the use case of COVID, with flu seasons and future pandemics on the horizon, it is beneficial to limit the contact with unknown individuals. Green house projects provide this by design and are thus safer for residents.
Another benefit of the Green House Project is the access to private spaces, both indoor and outdoor. Residents in these smaller homes do not have to worry about a crowded, noisy rec room where dozens of residents conduct their daily activities. Instead, residents are with a small pod of seniors, providing a family and community culture that helps residents stay connected.
Challenges to the Green House Project
Profitability remains the greatest challenge to the Green House Project. With Green House homes, the the lack of large numbers of residents makes the lifestyle great but it also presents a challenge to profitability. For this reason, only about 18% of the 300 domestic Green House Projects are privately owned, compared to 70% of regular nursing homes. Green House projects are expensive, and not covered by Medicaid meaning that residents have to pay out of pocket for a Green House residence.
As the demand for Green House style living grows, developers need to figure out how to make them profitable for investors and accessible to middle class Americans and elderly being financed by government programs. Incentives and reimbursement programs will help, but continued innovation is needed to ensure that the supply is enough to handle the aging population.