Detroit-based Samaritas is bowing out of senior living communities after more than 50 years of operating sites around the state.
The move is part of a new strategic plan that will reduce the organization’s $100 million budget by about half, help stave off additional financial losses and see it double down on investments in its remaining programs for children, families and refugees.
Those investments will come in areas including adoption, foster care, family preservation, behavioral health and substance abuse counseling and affordable housing for all populations of need, including seniors.
“Our mission remains the same: we will continue to serve vulnerable populations, but we also understand the need to strategically review our mission to best meet evolving needs in Michigan,” interim CEO Dave Morin said.
Coming out of COVID, it’s now a very different world, with increased need to invest a lot of capital and resources in senior communities, he said.
“We think the scale and resources to deliver care to our residents in the way we want it to happen (are) probably best delivered by senior living organizations."
Samaritas expects to close May 1 on the sale of Samaritas Senior Living Saginaw, a skilled nursing facility, to Preferred Care Michigan, a senior living community operator of seven communities in Michigan. Terms of the sale of the skilled nursing community in Saginaw for short and long-term rehabilitation were not disclosed. The community currently serves about 80 people.
“We have found an ideal partner in Preferred Care Michigan, (which) has expressed interest in maintaining the exceptional staff at the Saginaw facility, and we remain confident in their ability to provide the high quality of care our residents deserve,” Morin said.
“Preferred Care is excited to be partnering with Samaritas in serving our senior population and looking forward to expanding our service into more areas of the Saginaw community,” CEO Yoni Klein said in a release.
Samaritas is now working to identify new owners for its four other communities in Bloomfield Township, Traverse City, Cadillac and Grand Rapids, the largest of the communities, offering a full continuum of care. Its goal is to completely exit the senior communities business by the end of the calendar year, Morin said, expressing optimism that new owners will retain staff at each site. The properties serve a total of 514 seniors currently, with 429 staff members.
Samaritas, which claims to be the state’s largest foster care and adoption organization, is still finalizing its 2022 finances, but Morin projects it will show a loss in the millions of dollars tied to operating the five senior living communities and inflationary pressures on wages for its child welfare program, he said.
The pandemic exacerbated caregiver shortages, and inflation and competition for talent continue to increase the cost to operate senior living communities, Morin said. Samaritas has not been able to gain the economies of scale available to larger senior community operators, he added.
Additionally, Baby Boomer residents of senior living communities are seeking amenities that don’t come cheap, like granite counter tops and updated kitchens, Olympic-sized swimming pools, bistros and theaters, said Kelli Dobner, chief advancement and strategy officer of Samaritas.
“We have not been able to make those same investments at the same pace as our for-profit competitors” that are doing new construction, she said.
With the strategic shift and sale of its senior communities, Samaritas plans to deepen its work in child and family services, Morin said, “daring to innovate and dream and create new, innovative ways of serving the populations we serve.”
That will include a deeper look at the impact the nonprofit is having beyond the number of people it serves. Samaritas is developing a quality of life index to understand what resources it needs to put in place and what metrics it needs to pay attention to as indicators of significant changes in quality of life, Dobner said. It plans to share that information with other agencies and policymakers.
The goal is to not only demonstrate how Samaritas programs are making an impact but to effect positive change in the state’s child and family systems, she said.
With the strategic shift, Samaritas also plans to expand its advocacy, to be present in the center of policy conversations tied to its service areas, “to be the voice for the people in our care,” Dobner said.
Initially, it will step up its advocacy in child welfare, looking to convene stakeholders with the goal of improving the state’s child welfare system, she said. That will include things like identifying the implicit bias that has led to a disproportionate number of children of color in the state’s child welfare system and ensuring the state’s child welfare agencies are ready to shift more of their efforts to family preservation with federal shifts coming in 2026 to expand services and counseling that keep children among families rather than moving them into foster care.
The nonprofit also plans to step up its investments in affordable housing, leaders said.
As of 2021, the state was short 191,717 affordable, available rental homes, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
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