Recovery from Harvey Sep21

Recovery from Harvey

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Congress has approved a $15.25 billion disaster aid package for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). An additional package for Hurricane Irma recovery is likely under deliberation. The approved funds will contribute to, yet not cover, emergency assistance for regions of Texas and Louisiana overcome by Hurricane Harvey. The total funds needed for recovery may exceed $50 billion, according to analysts. The Gulf Coast of Texas received an unprecedented 50 inches of rain in less than four days. Homeland Security reports the loss of at least 70 lives and the destruction of more than 100,000 homes. Nearly 42 percent of Texans live in areas covered by the disaster proclamation. Beyond the Storm After Hurricane Allison, the 2014 City of Houston drainage study revealed that many of Houston’s poorest communities were inadequately prepared for “even modest storm events.” The National Community Reinvestment Coalition published a statement and map that shows the correlation between high-risk flood zones and communities of color. CNN reports that the city council approved $10 million to reduce drainage issues. Texas Housers and the Texas Organization Project claim that the City of Houston did not take action to protect its residents or mitigate the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Dam releases contributed to the devastation. On Monday, the US Army Corps of Engineers began to release water from the Addicks and Barker dams. The assumption was that the neighborhoods could better manage the water with controlled releases than uncontrolled overflow from the dams. Flood control officials in Harris County estimate that hundreds of properties flooded as a result of the controlled releases. Seeking Shelter Housing is the leading priority for disaster recovery specialists. Red Cross and partner associations opened 240 shelters in Texas and six shelters in Louisiana....

Apple Update

Come autumn, the world stops to see the next Apple crop. In this case, we mean tech, not fruit! This year has been especially bountiful with the launch of an upgraded Apple Watch, new iPhones, the 10-year celebration of the iPhone and the first keynote to be hosted at the company’s spaceship headquarters in the Steve Jobs Theater. Apple Watch Series 3 Even though the star of the evening was the iPhone X, some other interesting stuff occurred on stage. For example, we met the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple’s newest wearable version, upgraded to LTE connectivity—basically, the watch now works as a standalone device, so you don’t have to keep it connected to your iPhone. If you already own an iPhone and don’t have a watch, this should be the next item in your Apple shopping bag. The gizmo will work with the same phone number that your iPhone has, synchronizing calls, iMessage and music automatically. It will use a separate connection when away from the phone, so you no longer have to carry both your watch and your iPhone next time you hop on your mountain bike or head out for a jog. Visually, not much has changed. The device itself is slightly thicker than the Series 2 model, but that’s to be expected considering the performance upgrades it has stored inside. The Watch Series 3 is decked out with some new band options too—the Sport Loop, designed for outdoor active situations, and Hermès leather straps. Technical specs of the new watch include a new dual-core processor with 70 percent better performance and a new W2 chip that boosts Bluetooth, wireless connectivity and power efficiency. The cellular antenna is the display itself, and there is a tiny electronic SIM card inside for...

Equifax Hack Sep19

Equifax Hack

The breach of the Equifax database, which exposed the personal credit history of over 140,000,000 individuals, has left consumers scrambling for answers and wondering what steps to take. While many experts continue to weigh in on the issue, and law firms begin lining up for those class actions lawsuits, you may still be wondering what you can do to mitigate the damage. No doubt an investigation by Congress will provide some relief, and many private companies like Credit Karma and Capital One are already reaching out to beleaguered consumers. As we wait for the cavalry to arrive, we’ve collected a summary of all the information you need to protect yourself and give voice to your fears and frustrations. What Happened? Equifax believes hackers accessed the company’s network sometime between May and July of this year, gaining access to the social security numbers and extensive credit history of 143 million Americans as well some citizens of Canada and the UK. The hack itself came to the company’s attention on July 29, when the intrusion was immediately curtailed. Somewhat suspiciously, three Equifax executives chose to sell almost $2 million in Equifax stock on August 1st and 2nd, almost a week before the company went public about the incident. On September 7th, Equifax alerted the public about the breach, also issuing a statement denying the three executives knew about the hack. By the next day, company shares lost more than 13% of their value. The following week, the Senate began initial inquiries into the extent of the incident, also searching for evidence of compromised government accounts. By September 14, the Equifax CEO had been called to testify before Congress and the Federal Trade Commission announced it would begin investigating the breach. Who’s affected? At this point, if...

Galaxy Note8

It’s not easy to follow the footsteps of a maligned predecessor. After last year’s disastrous Note7, many believed the Note8 would never exist. But Samsung has launched the Note8, aiming at a righting the wrongs of the previous iteration. The new phablet, launched in August, does its best to restore customers’ faith in the brand,  but not without a hefty price. How big is too big? At 6.3-inches, the device feels like a Gulliver. Don’t even dream about using it with only one hand. The front is all screen with just a thin bezel top and bottom and curved edges that bend towards metal sides. However, the curvature of the screen seems reduced, compared to the Note7—the change means less real estate on the rounded edges, which makes using the stylus easier. For protection, its glass front and back are coated in Corning Gorilla Glass 5.0. The Super AMOLED display sports bright, vibrant colors, with deep blacks and beautiful viewing angles. It features the same virtual home button and pressure-sensitive screen as the Galaxy S8. The fingerprint scanner is placed on the back of the phone, to the right of the camera module, which takes some finger gymnastics to reach it. Samsung offers both iris-scanning and face-scanning unlock systems, so you don’t have to rely on the fingerprint scanner as much. Still, the face-recognition feature doesn’t feel secure enough just yet, even though the South Korean company has improved it and works faster and more reliably. The iris scanner on the other hand, is fast and as secure as the fingerprint method, that if don’t mind holding the phone up, awkwardly close to your face while making your eyes as big as you can. Specs-wise, the Note8 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor,...

Helping After Irma Sep15

Helping After Irma

When Hurricane Irma devastated a string of Caribbean islands and loomed off the coast of Florida, it had been less than two weeks since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas, displacing thousands of people from their homes. Irma was the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded. It triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people and made two landfalls before being downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday, September 11. For a second time this summer, our team members mobilized for a natural disaster response. Having recently created a housing website to help those affected by Harvey find temporary and permanent homes, we used this experience to quickly launch another dedicated housing registry to assist residents displaced by Irma. Leveraging our RENTCafé property marketing and leasing platform, RENTCafe.com/HurricaneIrma allows displaced residents to find new housing. It also makes it possible for housing providers with properties in the affected and surrounding areas to quickly and easily list available units, some with special concessions. There is no charge for companies to list their properties on the website or for residents to use it. There is also a toll-free hotline that evacuees can call seeking housing assistance if internet is not available. The hotline can be reached at (844) 363-6317. With many clients in the affected areas, we’re offering disaster response assistance for clients affected by either hurricane, including additional program support and tools to help clients communicate with their residents during the aftermath. Taking care of our clients is a critical part of the Yardi mission statement, and representatives are reaching out now to offer these and other services at no charge. “The best-case scenario for everyone is that our disaster response efforts remain untested, but we have them in place so that we can aid...

Grubb Properties Sep14

Grubb Properties

When Grubb Properties decided to upgrade its Yardi Voyager property management and accounting platform to the latest version, the company knew it would meet a little resistance from its staff. Iris Esguerra, Grubb’s Information Technology Business Analyst and Yardi Project Manager, says, “While Grubb embraced the benefits of moving to 7S, our Voyager power users were a little nervous about the potential disruption an upgrade can cause. With a change management strategy that included a lot of communication and documentation through the testing process to go live, Grubb experienced a successful transition.” Our Upgrade Like a Rock Star series shares insider tips for the move to Yardi Voyager 7S. In this installment, Esguerra tells how Grubb made the conversion for its 4,448 multifamily units and 28 commercial properties. Testing and Training The upgrade process began in the fourth quarter of 2016 with a target to go live in late March 2017. Grubb relied heavily on its Yardi Consulting Practices contact, Tricia Wyatt, to stay on track and achieve a smooth transition to 7S. Esguerra says that Wyatt was instrumental in helping Grubb through the upgrade by supplying testing materials and guideline documents for each Yardi module. Relevant documents were distributed to keep testers focused. Since the upgrade would greatly impact the look and feel of the platform, the documents provided a clear breakdown of functionality which users tested and became familiar with in the stage database. Esguerra explains the process, “As the project manager for Grubb and single point of contact for the implementation upgrade, I was provided a project plan and testing checklist workbook. The workbook showed a timeline of goals to hit each week prior to the go-live date, testing results for each module, a list of Yardi root menu sets to...

Fall YASC 2017 Sep13

Fall YASC 2017

The first ever Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC) to be held in beautiful San Diego, Calif. kicked off on Wednesday, welcoming 1,800 clients and 400 employees to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront resort for three days of product demonstrations, user classes, networking and fun. After being held in Santa Barbara and Anaheim for previous events, the fall user conference moves to San Diego for the next several years. Clients and employees alike expressed approval of the new venue, adjacent to the city’s waterfront, conference center and Gaslamp District. Yardi president and founder Anant Yardi welcomed clients to the largest ever YASC event with a 40 minute talk about the company’s development plans for the future. But he opened and closed his remarks with a focus on the recent hurricanes that hit the U.S. As many as 200 clients are attending the event from the states of Texas and Florida. “Thank you for being here. And thank you for what you have done to help your neighbors,” Mr. Yardi said. His remarks closed with a moving video about the company’s efforts to help clients and residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas on Aug. 25. The poignant imagery brought many in the audience to tears. “The thing that really stood out for me (during the hurricane) was people helping people,” Mr. Yardi said. The company developed a housing registry website to assist those who need to relocate, and donated $1 million to the rebuilding effort. Turning his focus to the Yardi software suite, Mr. Yardi touched on cloud security, role based applications, product development and more. “There has been tremendous investment in the Yardi Cloud and making sure that it is always secure,” he said, describing some of the innovative firewalls, specialized...

Storyteller SB Sep12

Storyteller SB

Since 1988, Storyteller Children’s Center has helped Santa Barbara’s homeless and at-risk toddlers achieve kindergarten readiness. Therapeutic preschool and support services provide students will the skills needed to beat the odds and excel. Since our previous article, Storyteller has grown. The second location and its staff are thriving. Even with the second location, the center has a waitlist for enrollments. In 2014, the waitlist averaged 80 families. This year, the waitlist has 144 families. The demand for Storyteller services continues to rise as local families struggle with homelessness, food security, and access to fundamental necessities. More than 90 percent of families serviced live below the 2017 Federal Poverty Guideline of $24,600 for a family of four. Delene Bliss, Director of Development at Storyteller, understands the conditions in which many students live. “That’s not a livable wage,” Bliss said. “That’s just the federal poverty guideline but that wage makes living very, very difficult in Santa Barbara.” About 56 percent of Storyteller families are single income, single parent households. Shelters or crowded, shared residences are what 53 percent of students call home. In addition to precarious living conditions, 43 percent of children strive to learn while managing developmental delays or disabilities. Without the help of Storyteller, these children would risk falling farther behind than their peers. The small classroom settings and one-on-one attention that students receive at Storyteller increase students’ chances for success. Yet in spite of the odds, Storyteller students are flourishing. Storyteller collaborated with the University of California, Channel Island and the University of California, Santa Barbara to conduct a study of Storyteller graduates. Dr. Michael Furlong of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Counseling Clinical and School Psychology program led a team of researchers on a quest to determine the long-term effects of...

Seniors Set Sail Sep12

Seniors Set Sail

For some retirees, living out the golden years at sea provides a fun, and surprisingly affordable, alternative to typical senior living facilities. While many aging adults anticipate retirement to be one endless vacation, some savvy seniors are taking that vacation mentality to the next level by making their home onboard a cruise ship. In many cases, this choice not only allows retirees to see the world but provides them access to many of the same amenities available at most reasonably-priced retirement communities, at just about the same cost. “What easily grabs your imagination when you think about people who opt to live aboard cruise ships instead of in retirement communities is how much fun it must be to be out in the world, meeting new people and seeing new places in a lovely atmosphere with good food and attentive service,” says Spencer Brown, Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of CruiseCritic.com. Affordable Adventures “You can go on a world cruise for under $300 a day, per person, double-occupancy,” Mara Hargarther, a travel agent and cruise vacation specialist at Dream Vacations in Ponte Vedra, Fla, recently told The New York Times. Explaining how those fees are often only slightly higher than high-end senior living facilities. In fact, according to a 2004 study from the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 20 years on a cruise ship comes with a price tag of just about $230,000, only a little more than the $228,075 cost of living for two decades in a retirement home.  Though there’s no doubt the current cost would be much higher, LongTermCare.gov estimates annual fees for assisted living range between $36,000 to $72,000, right in line with an average daily rate of $100 most consumers can expect to pay aboard a cruise ship. The idea...

Helping After Harvey Sep11

Helping After Harvey

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas. The devastating tropical storm dumped more than 50 inches of rain and killed more than 50 people during its four-day rampage. Due to flooding caused by the hurricane, more than 30,000 people were displaced from their homes in Texas and Louisiana. The evacuees staying in shelters or with friends and relatives included many renters. Yardi software helps manage a significant percentage of the Houston multifamily housing market. Yardi committed $1 million to support nonprofit organizations in the rebuilding of the areas affected by the hurricane, and will match employee donations to the hurricane relief fund. But there was also an opportunity to assist those in need of temporary or permanent housing due to floodwater damage. “The state of Texas is about to undergo one of the largest recovery-housing missions that the nation has ever seen,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long said at a news conference Monday. “It’s a long process. Housing is going to be very frustrating in Texas.” Following in the footsteps of an effort to create a housing clearinghouse for Canadians who lost their homes in the May 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, our RENTCafé development team sprang into action. Using the RENTCafé property marketing and leasing platform, they quickly built a housing website that will help displaced residents find temporary and permanent homes. The website (RENTCafe.com/HurricaneHarvey) allows housing providers to post available units and for displaced residents to search for housing.  Housing providers can visit the site to list properties at no charge. “We had experience with this kind of rush site build from our work on a housing registry website for the fire victims in Canada last spring,” said Chris Ulep, vice president of multifamily development at Yardi. “A collaborative effort got the website ready in just a couple of days. We hope that hurricane evacuees will find it useful as they search for new homes.” Yardi has also launched a hotline that evacuees looking for housing can call for housing assistance. The toll-free number is (844) 363-6317. Additionally, Yardi is offering disaster response assistance for clients on the RENTCafé platform, including nudge messaging, voice messaging and call automation to help clients communicate with their residents during the aftermath. Yardi representatives are reaching out to clients in the affected area to explain and offer these and other services at no charge. “We have many valued clients in the affected area, and it is important to us to assist those clients as well as their residents who may have been displaced. Thousands of people have lost their housing due to this devastating natural disaster, and we want to help in any way we can,” said Anant Yardi, president and founder of Yardi. The efforts to help were appreciated by those in the affected area. “Our industry is committed to housing and providing needed services like online housing portals and other resources to assist those in need.  We applaud the efforts of our supplier partners to assist those impacted by the hurricane,” said Chris Newton, executive vice president of the Texas Apartment Association. Additional resources for Yardi clients in the region include: The Texas Apartment Association has links to relevant documents and policies that may affect Houston property owners and managers. Policies for tax credit properties during federally declared disasters. An Emergency and Disaster Library from the National Apartment Association, with Hurricane Harvey content. For those who would like to help or support agencies working on the recovery effort in Texas, there are many ways to do so. A few resources include: Relief organizations assisting with evacuee support: Red Cross: donate online or by text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. The United Way Salvation Army – Text STORM to 51555 GlobalGiving Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Greater Houston Community Foundation – Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund The Way Home Portlight Charity Navigator compiled a...

AR Glasses

What makes a pair of glasses smart? They can improve the quality of what you see. This process is called augmented reality (AR). You can navigate the internet by giving natural language commands, you can also synchronize with computers and smartphones for communication. Today’s smart glasses have almost all the features of a smartphone. People are already replacing their desktop computers with smart glasses. Recently, major companies in Silicon Valley have shown significant interest in augmented reality, a technology that integrates computer graphics and software into the real world. If you thought Snapchat’s Spectacles were expensive, check out these smart glasses for normal people…with a lot of money. Microsoft HoloLens They use a projection system to generate low-latency, multidimensional holograms. The mixed reality headset is made of plastic and is adjustable. You interact with the content, information or holograms using your gaze, gesture and voice. It’s one of the priciest headsets available, however Microsoft is clearly the leader in AR tech. Price: $3,000 ODG R-7 smart glasses system The ODG R-7 glasses are jam packet with sensors and features. The glasses are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor and pack 3GB of RAM, as well as 6GB of internal storage. The Snapdragon 805 processor is the first commercial mobile processor to support on-device 4K Ultra HD display, including support for 4K Ultra HD UI and 4 K Ultra HD video capture and playback, realistic 3D gaming and up to 55MP photo support. Price: $2,750 Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses After the success with Vuzix’s M100, the company developed M300, a pair of glasses that are made for enterprise and come with an Intel Atom processor powering performance, all in a comfortable, yet rugged design. The M300 runs on Android with 2GB RAM, 16GB of...

Weathering the Storm Sep08

Weathering the Storm

A Tallahassee senior living provider opens its doors to senior community escaping the path of Hurricane Irma. On September 1st, Mike Schmidt quickly responded to a call asking for help relocating 100 seniors from the Naples, Fla. community they call home. As Hurricane Irma began to bear down on the Florida Keys, Schmidt, Executive Director of Tapestry Living, knew he must act quickly to make room for the displaced residents while also helping them feel safe in secure during this turbulent time. “We’re ready to go,” Schmidt told local news station WTXL. “We’ve got food supplies on order. Medications are ready to go. The pharmacy has been contacted, so things are really working out for the best.” A Storm for the Ages With most of Houston still under water, the nation once again braced for another historic storm. Generating more than 50 inches of rain and causing over $75 billion in damage, Hurricane Harvey currently holds the spot as the “second-costliest natural disaster in US history,” but that ranking could change now that Hurricane Irma rips through the Caribbean on its way to Florida’s east coast. After decimating several islands in the Caribbean, the storm should reach the Florida keys late Friday, making landfall near Miami early Sunday morning. A more weakened storm will arrive in Orlando on Monday before Irma finally downgrades to a tropical storm and heads out across the Atlantic Downgraded to a Category 4 storm early Friday morning,  Hurricane Irma currently churns about 400 miles southeast of Miami. Moving at about 14 mph and generating winds of up to 150 mph, the National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Florida overnight, warning residents that “preparations to protect life should be rushed to completion.” With over six million people in the Hurricane’s path,...

Stronger + Smarter Sep07

Stronger + Smarter

Local students are back in class, and that means back to awesome after school activities for the young ladies who participate in Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara’s afternoon programming. Yardi is a longtime philanthropic supporter of Girls Inc.’s efforts in the community. For the second year, this fall a partnership with UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education will expose several dozen fourth to sixth grade girls to career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The program is called the Curie-osity Project (after trailblazing female scientist Marie Curie), and it was a runaway success when it started in Winter 2017. “The girls are exposed to women who are in the STEM profession. They are experiencing hands on STEM projects and having the opportunity to really dive in and and learn about those areas,” said Kristina Webster, director of programs for Girls Inc. The success of the program highlights two of the things the non-profit organization excels at: creating meaningful community partnerships, and enlisting the support of dedicated volunteers. 12 female UCSB scientists donated their time to welcome the Girls Inc. students to their laboratories and offices last year – a similar number will do the same this fall and winter. “We wanted to create a program that combined literacy and science for girls,” said Danielle Harlow, an associate professor of education, in a UCSB press release. Harlow and colleague Diana Arya were the leaders on the UCSB side of the project. “We specifically wanted the girls to come to UCSB’s campus because research tells us that children who spend time on university campuses see college campuses as places they belong and are more likely to pursue higher education,” Harlow said. Last year, the girls in the program learned about how computer programs...

Cutting Costs Sep06

Cutting Costs

Submitting an application for affordable housing is a daunting challenge. Tax returns, paycheck stubs and bank statements are just the beginning of what applicants must provide to qualify for a unit. Proof of eligibility for housing assistance is a must since public funds often support rents below market rate. Federal, state and local housing agencies have policies and procedures in place that ensure affordable housing resources only serve qualified residents. In the past, affordable housing providers kept files with thick stacks of paper as proof of each resident’s eligibility status. Providers also keep similar files for denied applicants to document why a household was determined ineligible for housing assistance. Affordable housing providers are taking a modern approach to minimize paperwork and staff hours necessary to qualify residents. With online applications, providers are not saving administrative costs, but also better documenting their resident files and boosting compliance with fair housing regulations. Rather than handing applicants a stack of forms to fill out, housing specialists can now direct applicants to an online portal to submit everything needed to qualify for a unit. RENTCafé Affordable Housing from Yardi makes this possible, and it’s becoming more and more common throughout the industry. Just how big is the RENTCafé Affordable Housing trend? More than 100,000 housing applications have been created online since the product launched in 2016. That’s more than 6,000 per month, and the numbers are growing every day. “Affordable housing applications have evolved from cumbersome, paper-based hassles into easy, online workflows. Applicants can submit documentation from their home computer or mobile device. That freedom saves applicants from taking time off work to come into the office for a lengthy in-person interview,” said Dave Kessler, vice president of affordable housing and PHA at Yardi. “If you consider it...

Senior Focus Sep05

Senior Focus

In a move intended to anticipate exponential growth in the industry, real estate development firm The Shelter Group, recently sold the entirety of its affordable housing portfolio to Enterprise Homes. Stating a desire to focus on the rapidly growing potential of the company’s senior housing properties, The Shelter Group’s executive vice president and CFO Jeffrey Hettleman told Senior Housing News the decision was also based on the company’s desire to remain “service oriented.” “As Brightview has grown, the two businesses have become different and really served different populations, “said Hettlemam. “Brightview had gotten so much larger, in terms of people, and it operates around the clock, and senior living is much more service intensive that the challenges of doing that well and maintaining our culture required us to really focus on that part of our business.” The Art of the Deal Though neither company disclosed the final purchase amount, the August 1st sale allows The Shelter Group to shift gears towards a complete senior housing portfolio. The switch makes sense given the current makeup of the company’s operations. Before the sale, only 175 employees manned The Shelter Group’s affordable housing portfolio, while almost 3,600 work under the Brightview banner. Enterprise Homes will absorb those 175 employees as well as 43 affordable housing properties located primarily in Maryland. With the purchase, Enterprise Homes will triple its holding by adding 4, 1543 affordable housing units to its portfolio. According to Jeff Kunitz, executive vice president of CBRE Affordable Housing (who worked on behalf of The Shelter Group during the transaction), the company specifically looked for a buyer willing to maintain the properties as affordable housing for low-income families. “It was very important for Shelter Group to find a buyer who would maintain the same high level of...

Carbon-Free Taipei Sep04

Carbon-Free Taipei

The heart of Taipei City is about to become the nest of architect Vincent Callebout’s eco-friendly, energy-saving pioneer concept. The Tao Zhu Yin Yuan (The Retreat of Tao Zhu) tower, also known as the Agora Garden, is blossoming in the XinYi District. Located just a few blocks from the LEED-Platinum certified Taipei 101, the world’s eighth tallest building, Tao Zhu Yin Yuan was conceived as a twisted tower that sucks up carbon emissions in downtown Taipei. The 455,694-square-foot structure is a double-helix inspired by the DNA structure. It is this inspiration source that makes the tower a symbol of life and harmony with nature. A vertical forest The 306-foot building will be inhabited at 20 levels that stretch and twist themselves at 90 degrees. Every floor is rotated by 4.5 degrees clockwise as the tower moves up. Viewed from different angles, the building has four different forms—a triangle, figure 8, cone and reverse triangle. Luxuriant vegetation that springs from every balcony will engulf the building as the community will be covered in 23,000 trees and shrubs. The selected essences will mostly be eatable in order to make each inhabitant gardener in its own vegetable consumption. Suspended orchards, organic vegetable gardens, aromatic and medicinal gardens will multiply the jardinière along the global periphery of each apartment. The plants will continue inside to the tower’s hallways, complete with a glass floor. The design also includes rainwater recycling. Moreover, an 11,000-square-foot photovoltaic pergola will be placed on top of the building, helping it become a self-sufficient one. All condos will feature 270-degree views of Taipei’s Central Business District, double-floor designs, completely column-free interior space and column-less floor perimeters in order to provide total flexibility in interior planning. The building will include car parks, a swimming pool, a...

Seniors + Safety Sep02

Seniors + Safety

Viral photo of flooded assisted-living facility  in Houston demonstrates importance of disaster preparedness for senior living communities. With so many heartbreaking images of the devastation visited upon Houston by Hurricane Harvey, the photo of residents of the La Vita Bella assisted-living center in Dickinson stands out. The photo, which depicts several seniors submerged in murky, waist-high flood waters, triggered outrage after gaining widespread attention on Twitter and other social media outlets. By Sunday afternoon, an evacuation was underway, with all the eventually relocated to a nearby nursing home. With a new photo of the now safe and dry residents now making the rounds online, questions still linger regarding the delay in emergency services, with some of the resident’s family members telling CNN they were forced to post the photo on Twitter in an attempt to trigger a rescue effort. “They were basically told no one was coming because they couldn’t reach them,” Kim McIntosh, mother of resident Trudy Lampson, told CNN. “That’s when we decided to go ahead and tweet the photos.” Preparing For Disaster While the situation at La Vita Bella is, hopefully, an extreme example, the catastrophe triggered by Hurricane Harvey serves as yet another reminder of the importance of disaster preparedness. As Jay Shelton, Senior Vice President, at Assurance Risk Management, writes in a December 2015 issue of Senior Housing Business, “The best time to write one of these plans is, frankly, yesterday.” “Without prior planning, you leave your organization open to financial disaster,” he continues, “especially if you are forced to close operations for a period of time. In addition, without a proper plan to cope with a disaster, your facility may face lawsuits from vendors, employees or residents’ families claiming negligence.” Prioritize and Delegate When developing an emergency preparedness...

Kid Stuff

Watching a cartoon on a smartphone, tablet or smart TV has become a daily routine for many kids. Whether it’s Peppa Pig, Thomas & Friends, Talking Tom or online hits such as Mother Goose Club, Super Simple Songs or Wonder Quest, children spend hours with their eyes glued to those screens. As a parent, it’s almost futile to think you can control everything they watch. But YouTube came up with a handy companion. The YouTube Kids app enables adults be in command. The kid-friendly version of YouTube features a simplified design, a selection of age-appropriate content and, probably most importantly, parental control. YouTube Kids has a completely different design from the regular YouTube application. Kids can tap on large buttons to reach dedicated sections such as “Shows,” “Music,” “Learning” and “Explore,” indicated by icons of a play button, radio, lightbulb and binoculars, respectively. You should be aware the app does feature advertisements, but if you or your child come across any inappropriate content you can flag it in the same way you would on the original YouTube app. How it Works The YouTube Kids app has become a popular platform amongst families around the world. More than eight million weekly active viewers use the app. Recently, YouTube Kids was made available on LG, Samsung and Sony smart TVs in the 26 countries where the app is currently launched. Here are a few tips: Downloading the app on your device is free for iOS and Android platforms. Your device will need to be operating on iOS 7 or above or Android 4.1 or above. The app doesn’t require a sign-in or Google account. You can also watch YouTube Kids videos on your TV with a Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles and smart TVs. After the...

Cultural Concerns Aug31

Cultural Concerns

Expected to command a significant portion of America’s aging population over the next several decades, the nation’s aging Hispanic population will usher in a new era of cultural needs and expectations. That’s according to a new study commissioned by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. After surveying older Hispanics on their attitudes and expectations regarding assisted living and senior housing, researchers concluded Hispanics might “face additional obstacles in getting culturally competent care.” “…49 percent of older Hispanics have already faced language or cultural barriers as they navigate the health care system,” state the report’s authors. “These barriers have resulted in additional stress, delays in getting care, increased time and effort, not getting needed care and higher than expected costs for care.” Respect and Value Expressing feelings of frustration, loneliness and confusion, the survey’s participants expressed concern over the ability of their local health care providers to meet their specific needs. Specifically, respondents reported difficulty communicating with doctors and nurses due to language and cultural barriers. For those experiencing difficulty overcoming these challenges, two-thirds said they experienced additional stress and delays related to receiving adequate medical care. Unfortunately, less than half of the Hispanics surveyed expressed confidence in their local health care facilities and nursing homes’ ability to meet the needs of senior residents. Even fewer respondents felt home health aides and assisted living communities are up to the challenge, with only 20 percent of participants conveying they felt assured of the capabilities of their local home senior health providers. Complex Communications With almost 3 out of 4 Hispanics speaking Spanish in the home, the language barrier remains the foremost barrier to adequate senior care. According to the survey, a little more than a third of respondents reported speaking English “less than ‘very...

Collaboration + Community Aug30

Collaboration + Community

In May of this year, senior living provider Merrill Gardens unveiled its newest development, a 196-unit community called BullStreet in Columbia, South Carolina. The project is a joint venture between Merrill Gardens and its multifamily-focused sister company, Pillar Properties, as well as regional partner Second Fifty Communities of Charleston, S.C. “The addition of Merrill Gardens fits our vision for BullStreet perfectly, allowing us to provide living opportunities for all age groups,” said Robert Hughes, president of Hughes Development Corp. and master developer for the BullStreet development in downtown Columbia in a statement about the project. Location, Location, Location Hailed as one of Columbia’s biggest land deals in recent history, the BullStreet project will be built on the 181-acre site of the former South Carolina State Hospital complex. The community sits across the street from a planned 20-acre park and is also close to Spirit Communications Park, home of Columbia’s Fireflies, the city’s Single-A baseball team. “These apartments will be the best-located senior housing units in Columbia,” Hughes said. Paying attention to location is one of the hallmarks of Merrill Garden’s property development agenda. By designing each community with characteristics specific to the area, Merrill Gardens creates a comfortable and welcoming environment for residents so they can relax and feel at home. The company’s multi-family sister corporation, Seattle-based Pillar Properties, develops, owns and manages apartment residences in many of Seattle’s “signature neighborhoods.” “We understand the character of the area and work hard to bring that energy into the spaces we design” the company declares on its website. “Because we’re still family-owned, we do things our way – with a premium on delivering an ideal customer experience as measured by our own exacting standards… our mission is to provide a Quietly Awesome experience at every level of engagement.” Spirit of a City The BullStreet location was chosen by the developers because of the neighborhoods “uniquely urban experience,” generated, in part, by its former use as a state hospital campus. With Spirit Communications Park nearby, residents of the project’s senior living will be able to enjoy walking trails and playing fields while also having access to the stadiums batting cages, Club Lounge and other amenities. While the development include 24-hour dining access and round-the-clock staffing typical of most senior living facilities, tenants will also be able to enjoy more unique amenities including a rooftop deck and sports bar. The project’s developers hope residents will take advantage of the community’s centralized location to partake of area restaurants, stores and other entertainment offerings. “The Bull Street project has allowed us to fulfill our vision of providing seniors with an active and authentic lifestyle in a community in which they are already familiar,” said Clayton Mozingo, Principal and CEO of Second Fifty Communities. He continued, “In partnership with the Hughes Development team, highlighting the rich Columbia landscape as the backdrop of this site has been an exciting experience given the positive change in the area.” A Lifestyle Approach Considered a leader in the senior living industry for the last 23 years, Merrill Gardens currently operating 30 senior living communities in seven states. Deploying a “lifestyle approach” to senior housing, Merrill Gardens makes sure each one of its properties reflects the unique attributes of the community where it is located. The addition of Merrill Gardens fits our vision for BullStreet perfectly, allowing us to provide living opportunities for all age groups,” said Robert Hughes, president of Hughes Development Corp. and master developer for BullStreet. “We are creating a dense urban environment that reflects the diversity and rich character of our city, which is very important to us. We found the best, most experienced companies in the country to incorporate vibrant, interconnected senior living into the...