by ROBIN DOUGLAS, ROBIN DOUGLAS CREATIVE SERVICES, LLC
Ana Pinto da Silva is CEO of Minka Homes and Communities, an innovative model for middle market senior housing that combines best practices in universal and sustainable design with smart home technology to help people live their best lives, regardless of age or ability. A new partnership announced July 1st with the Covia Group and Ziegler Linkage Funds will support the creation of “multi-ability,” intergenerational homes designed to be inclusive, cost-efficient and support individual and community wellness.
The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) defines the middle market as “Americans with too much income to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for most private care options for very long.” A study by NIC in 2019 cited that by 2029, 54 percent of middle-income older adults will be unable to afford senior housing, a number that has surely been impacted by COVID-19. “Right now, there are millions of people struggling to age in their homes and communities. COVID-19 has intensified these challenges exponentially,” said Pinto da Silva. “Affordable home and community-based solutions that deliver health, safety and wellness at scale are urgently needed.”
Minkas are “digitally connected smart homes” designed to support people across the full arc of their lives. Co-founded by geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas, creator of The Eden Alternative and The Green House Project, Minkas are centered around universal design — the concept of designing buildings, products or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors.
Homes can be grouped into “pocket neighborhoods” centered around open, shared spaces that promote social connection and an enduring sense of community.
The focus on wellness is reflected across all aspects of Minka’s design, architecture, and technology. “We think of Minka as an ecosystem. The Minka home is an atom, and the Minka community is a molecule. Both work together to help people live with agency and independence,” said Pinto da Silva. “We’re asking ourselves, how can a home be designed to be easier to clean if you have a cognitive or mobility challenge? How can our homes support better health outcomes? How can where we live help us become more resilient – as individuals and as a collective community?”
As part of their new partnership with the Covia Group and Ziegler Link-age Funds, the first Minka homes will be built at Covia’s Spring Lake Village campus in Santa Rosa. Construction is slated to begin early next year.
“We need a range of solutions designed to address the urgent challenges middle-market Americans face,” said Pinto da Silva.
“While Minka is not a silver bullet, we believe that through thoughtful, purposeful design, we can create home and community-based solutions that foster wellness and build resilience — and that’s a goal worth fighting for.”