Co-Housing During the Coronavirus: What are Seniors Up To?

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Ann Lehman | PDX Commons co-housing, The U-shaped building that residents collectively designed, built, own and manage makes interaction easier. There are walkways in front of the condos.

Even before the pandemic forced everyone to hunker down at home, 79-year-old Fran Rothman decided to move out of a townhouse and live the rest of her life where she would never feel alone.

The retired special education teacher and social worker settled into an arrangement that promised to grant that wish: Collaborating housing, or co-housing, in which everyone in the community agrees to share chores, solve problems and socialize together.

At PDX Commons, a 55 and older complex in Southeast Portland’s Sunnyside neighborhood, Rothman can open the front door of her condo and find camaraderie.

Neighbors she’s known over years of committee meetings and potlucks can be heard singing on their balconies. Folks wave at one another as they move about, and people not seen outside for a while are called to make sure they’re fine.

If it weren’t for COVID-19, the three dozen seniors living here would be looking forward to a dance party with a live rock and roll band. Instead, they continue to keep their distance while watching out for one another.

The U-shaped building they collectively designed, built, own and manage makes interaction easier.

There are walkways in front of the condos on the top three levels and next to the courtyard is a large meeting and dining space. Twice a week, resident foodies using the communal commercial-style kitchen take turns making dinners for everyone.

“Our meals rival Portland restaurants,” says Rothman. “We have great cooks who live here. We’re not talking about a pot of soup.”

Some of the ingredients are harvested from gardens residents tend to on the rooftop deck.

They take the elevator to the ground level to spend time in the library, media room with a big screen TV, or the craft and exercise room. In another wing is a workshop and bike storage as well as a dog-wash station.

Although the sit-down group dinners indoors are now masked affairs in which people bring their own plate to take home to eat, in good weather homeowners can be six feet apart outdoors around a fire pit.

“We all are in this together,” says resident Ann Lehman, 67, of the group that makes decisions by consensus. “The loneliness factor exists but not like for most adults living alone or even a couple by themselves or someone in a nursing home with their own room.”

Lehman says a perk of living with retirees who are regular hikers, bicyclists and campers is she can go for a walk with one of them without planning in advance.

Co-housing requires work

Each co-housing complex is unique, in physical size and configuration to work for the young families or empty nesters, or both, who live there. The private homes could be newly built or remodeled apartments. The communal space could be a multipurpose room or a century-old farmhouse.

The common goal: To coordinate efforts to benefit all.

People living in collaborative spaces buy a unit or sign a lease knowing they will interact often with their neighbors. People who want to control the activity may not like all the committees, writes Charles Durrett in ”Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living-The Handbook.”

Those who benefit desire traditional forms of community and a sense of belonging, according to Durrett.

“Living in community supports resilience,” says Eli Spevak, who lives at Cully Grove, a 16-unit co-housing community in Northeast Portland that his company, Orange Splot, co-developed with Zach Parrish in 2012.

“It also helps to live with people who have a wide range of skill sets, a nice level of trust and the ability to team up on group tasks,” Spevak says, adding these are “all handy things in case of catastrophe, whether that be earthquake, massive power outage or pandemic.”

Oregon has 30 co-housing communities, according to the CoHousing Association of the U.S.

Some are within walking distance of parks, shops, restaurants and grocery stores; others are remote or on acreage. All have a focus on sustainable living, reducing waste and keeping costs down with residents managing the finances and keeping up the property.

PDX Commons’ building, shared areas and private spaces were developed and constructed by Urban Development + Partners based on designs by Works Progress Architecture with residents’ input. J.R. Abbott Construction was the general contractor.

The condos have from 625 to 1,250 square feet of living space. All 27 were sold for between $355,000 and $720,000 before the building was completed in July 2017.

Today, an 846-square-foot condo with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a north-facing balcony at 4262 S.E. Belmont St. #404 is for sale at $595,000.

Property taxes are $7,300 a year and homeowners association fees, at $557 a month, cover water, garbage pickup, recycling and community Wi-Fi and activities as well as property insurance for the building and a reserve fund.

 PDX Commons is participating in National Cohousing Open House Day on April 24 over Zoom (join in by filling out a contact form at pdxcommons.com/contact.

In agreement

Part of each owner’s continuing responsibilities is to work on committees.

Rothman is a member of the building, grounds and finance committees. One of her jobs is night watch, in which she makes sure outside doors are secured.

Events like a dance party are planned by the FunC (fun committee) and the gift-loan committee sorts out what people are donating or letting the community use, from a kayak to garden sculpture.

A retired nurse and a scientist contributed to the health committee, which sent group emails as facts became known about COVID-19.

When the coronavirus was even more of a mystery, people reacted to fears to different degrees.

“We made sure no one was so alone that they were scared,” says Lehman. “No one has been sick from COVID. Now, we’re struggling to make sure everyone gets vaccinated.”

Residents held Zoom meetings in March 2020 to agree on a code of conduct to reduce the risk of anyone contracting the virus.

As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hands are washed often, surfaces are sanitized and cleaning chores were stepped up.

Families and friends could not visit inside the complex or stay in one of the two shared guest rooms.

Residents with health conditions that made them more susceptible to COVID-19 had groceries delivered or neighbors shopped for them.

“Ultimately, if these are the people you live with, you are not going to jeopardize them,” says Rothman. “We supported everyone’s comfort zone.”

Over the last year, the residents have spent more time together, since no one was traveling, and they learned new skills. Many participated in national co-housing webchats and virtual conferences.

Lehman led yoga classes and other exercise sessions continued even when the teacher couldn’t enter the complex. Birthdays are celebrated by everyone standing on porches and blasting a favorite song on iTunes.

Over time, they formed small social pods with folks on the same floor.

“As we get older, it’s better to live around people than in your own space,” says Rothman. Experts agree that limited social support and stimulation can lead to isolation, which affects physical and mental health.

After Rothman and her partner moved to Portland from Sacramento seven years ago to enjoy the city’s cultural activities, good transportation and closeness to recreational camping area, they lived in a townhouse where neighbors were friendly, but there were no joint activities.

Rothman says a co-housing complex is a place in which relationships can thrive: “Where you can enjoy your neighbors, do things with them and share with them.”

— Janet Eastman | Source here

Grocery Workers, Realtors Among Oregon Front-Line Workers Eligible for Vaccine April 5th

The state announced Friday that people in Group 7 of Phase 1B will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine two weeks earlier than planned.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Kat Granum has worked in the real estate industry for eight years. She says the last year has been the most stressful.

“We’ve been working since the stay-at-home order hit,” she said. “Trying to use all the safety precautions. Masks, gloves when they were recommended.”

Granum has been waiting for her chance to get vaccinated, and it is going to happen sooner than she thought.

Realtors were slated to become eligible for a vaccine in mid-April, but the timeline has been accelerated. Realtors are now eligible for vaccinations beginning April 5.

“I got an email from the Oregon Realtors Association and I immediately told my husband,” Granum said. “I was just really excited to have the opportunity.”

Just as excited as Granum are grocery workers. They, too, can get a vaccine two weeks sooner than expected.

“These workers can’t work from home,” said Miles Eshaia of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 555. “They can’t work remotely. They’ve shown up to work everyday throughout all of this since the beginning. Having access to the vaccine if they want it is a really good thing.”

RELATED: Oregon moves up vaccine eligibility for front-line workers, adults with underlying conditions

There are dozens upon dozens of front-line workers who will become eligible for a vaccine as soon as the first Monday in April. Those working in food service, finance and the legal profession are included in the group.

“In keeping with Oregon’s commitment to equity, this change gives front-line workers and other [Phase 1B, Group 7] populations more time to get vaccinated,” said Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority.

Allen says the state is able to move up the vaccine timeline two weeks early because more and more doses are coming in from the federal government and counties and health providers are making progress vaccinating seniors.

Granum is ready for her shot. She plans to jump online and schedule a vaccine appointment as soon as she is allowed.

“I don’t know if it’s a day my kids get to go to school but if it is, I’ll be on the computer right after they leave.”

 Mike Benner | Source: here

What Might the Future of Live Music Look Like in Portland?

Advocates hope venues will rethink their profit models and center young, diverse talent when the COVID haze clears.

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Sotaè, Veana Baby, and Rain Ezra performing at Columbia Park. IMAGE: COURTESY CAROLINA NASCIMENTO-TOUTAN

Last summer, after Congress introduced the Save Our Stages Act to create grants for shuttered music venues, fans across the country wrote 2.1 million letters to their representatives asking them to support the bill. The National Independent Venue Association tallied the number of letters from specific jurisdictions, and the result? Oregonians wrote more than anyone else in the country. While the Oregon Shakespeare Festival received the largest grant from the $50 million in federal CARES Act funds distributed in the state, Portland music venues also saw a solid chunk of that money.

“Portland is a music city. Nashville didn’t come through and write millions of letters to their representatives,” says Jim Brunberg, vice president of NIVA and co-owner of Revolution Hall and Mississippi Studios (with just a little exaggeration). “Portland did.”

Now, with COVID keeping venues closed for the foreseeable future, some local experts say the Portland music scene has an opportunity to revisit its priorities when the pandemic ends. The major theme? Loop in young people, and center talent.

In 2015, André Middleton founded Friends of Noise, an organization that hopes to create an all-ages venue centered on young musicians and sound engineers. Last summer, Friends of Noise lobbied the city for CARES funding to create such a venue. It didn’t work out, as funds were already spoken for. Instead, the organization, which in pre-COVID times ran music business and sound engineering workshops for teenagers, has continued to act as a sort of talent agency for emerging musicians. Over the summer, it produced six concerts at local parks featuring young talent (all of whom the organization paid) and did pro bono sound production for about 20 Black Lives Matter protests in the metro area.

There are currently no small all-ages venues in the city. One of the barriers to keeping these clubs open is the labyrinth of rules that regulate alcohol sales in Oregon. Larger venues, like the Roseland and the Crystal Ballroom, have often struck a compromise where adults could buy alcohol if they stood in a specific area. But Middleton argues the business model of most venues, where alcohol sales are a profit center and the entertainers just a hook to draw people in, is fundamentally flawed.

“I would love it if Portland could have an arts venue where the sale of alcohol was secondary to creating a venue for the enjoyment of the artists,” Middleton says.

One option is a public-private partnership, or a local tax subsidizing venues specifically. Ultimately, Middleton wants to open a community venue in East Portland led by musicians color. “Obviously people of color are part of the music ecosystem in Portland, but they don’t get the profits that it generates,” he says.

Meara McLaughlin, executive director of advocacy group Music Portland, says new music business models might include VIP events or subscription services. She also notes the Centers for Disease Control is telegraphing that live music events should have firmer start and end times to allow for cleaning, which could have the unintended benefit of making them more accessible to audiences young and old who need to get up early for work or school. And in the near future, she says, touring isn’t going to be a possibility, so all live music will be local. That means Portlanders need to take extra care to support the local scene. If our letter writing is anything to go on, there’s plenty of reason to believe we will.

By Christen McCurdy

The article source can be found here.

25 Most Affordable Neighborhoods in the Portland Metro Area

An increasingly sought-after characteristic on the part of metro-area buyers has been affordability.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Since the Hottest ‘Hoods project began several years ago, the Business Journal has highlighted the ZIP codes with the most home sales, the fastest-selling homes and, of course, those with the highest-priced homes — measuring all as indicators of residential desirability.

However, an increasingly sought-after characteristic on the part of metro-area buyers has been affordability, something the region once prided itself on compared to other large West Coast cities.

SEE SLIDESHOW: 25 most affordable neighborhoods in the Portland metro area

Therefore, we’ve turned the Hottest ‘Hoods project on its head to highlight the ZIP codes where first-time homebuyers and lower-income buyers might have a better shot at finding a home they can afford. The data is based on 2020 sales data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) and property tax rates obtained from SmartAsset’s Property Tax Calculator.

To do so, we equally weighted the average sale price, the median sale price and the number of homes sold in 2020, along with the relevant county’s property tax rate multiplied by the median sale price. Ranking ties were broken using the lower average sale price.

RELATED: US adds a strong 379,000 jobs in hopeful sign for economy

Of course, a lot of other factors may influence a home’s affordability, such as mortgage interest rates, utility bills, energy efficiency and cost to commute to work, but the index we’ve created gives one a good idea of some of the most affordable places to live in and around Portland.

Despite the pandemic and associated economic recession, home prices have generally continued to rise in the Portland region. According to RMLS data, the average median sale price in 100 metro-area ZIP codes increased 7.8% last year to $459,034. And according to Realtor.com, the median listing price for the metro area reached $525,000 in January of this year, up 9.2% from January of last year when it was $480,748.

RELATED: New Portland economic report shows pandemic has hurt low-income, BIPOC and women the most

recent report by the Oregon Employment Department, examined whether the pandemic made the state’s real estate market any more affordable. In it, regional economist Damon Runberg noted: “In an unexpected turn we have seen a large increase in the demand for housing during this pandemic recession. The high demand has led to historically low inventories of residential real estate for many communities across the state. High demand and low inventory is leading to dramatic home price appreciation, further increasing concerns around housing affordability.”

Stories from KGW reporters:

https://youtu.be/xBqkjFmy9cQ

 Brandon Sawyer (Portland Business Journal)

Source: here

PCC Share President Mitsui Talks AI and Its Potential in a Post-Pandemic World

To those who fear it, AI marks the dawning of robots taking over the world. Others see AI as a time, money and energy saver.

 

You talk to your phone to set a reminder, play music, search the internet or navigate to a destination.

You worry about typing errors. Autocorrect has you covered.

You order a movie online and soon see other recommendations you may enjoy.

These are everyday examples of artificial intelligence, or AI, a collection of algorithms that enable machines to sense, reason, act, and adapt like the human mind would.

To those who fear it, AI marks the dawning of robots taking over the world. Others see AI as a time, money and energy saver.

In June 2019, Oregon’s Workforce and Talent Development Board established a statewide task force. Its charge is to focus on AI education and training. Co-chaired by board members Mark Mitsui, president of Portland Community College, and K.S. Venkatraman, senior director of AI computing architecture with graphics processing chip manufacturer NVIDIA, the task force comprises several private, public and educational partners.

Then COVID-19 struck.

Oregon and the nation entered into a recession virtually overnight. The state lost 272,000 jobs in two months, wiping out six years of job growth. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate soared from the lowest on record to the highest in a single month.

The long path to recovery began in May as restrictions were relaxed and businesses adjusted. By July, the state had regained nearly 40 percent of the jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic. But job loss was disproportionate in its impact, affecting women and people of color, as well as low-income and rural communities the most.

“It’s hard to see the silver lining when disaster strikes,” said Mitsui, “but the pandemic will accelerate the pace of AI innovation. If our policy response is equity-based and includes a pathway to new careers through postsecondary education, we could have an opportunity to help level the playing field, re-skilling a highly diverse, highly displaced workforce who lost their jobs due to COVID.”

Venkatraman added, “AI will create dislocations, but history has shown that new technology is the engine of economic growth. More jobs were created with every major economic shift, from the industrial age, to the computer age, to the Internet era. AI will augment many jobs, and create new opportunities, improving productivity and enhancing our quality of life.”

The task force produced a comprehensive report with recommendations based on national and international research pointing to the potential of AI. Experts from sectors influencing Oregon’s economy contributed to it. The document also included a section on climate change, a burgeoning area for AI, that can assist with forecasting fires and floods, and reducing carbon emissions enabling the transition to renewable energy.

The task force submitted its recommendations to Gov. Kate Brown and the legislature, which underscore a commitment to equity, highlight outcomes-based funding and incentives, note the importance of private-public sector relationships, and outline criteria necessary to create AI programs leading to degrees and certificates at all Oregon universities and community colleges.

“If we follow this ‘recipe,’ Oregon will attract AI businesses because we’ll be developing the talent pool they need,” said Mitsui. “We’ll also be equipping Oregonians, particularly those historically marginalized communities at greatest risk of displacement by AI, with the skills, knowledge and abilities necessary to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution.”

Article source: here

Is Your City One of the Healthiest (or Unhealthiest) in the U.S.?

A new survey ranks nearly 200 places on the basis of healthcare, food, fitness, and COVID-19.

“Location, location, location” is a key tenet in buying and selling real estate, but the mantra also applies to matters of personal health. A newly released survey suggests that where we choose to live factors into our wellness as much as diet and exercise.

For its 2021 Healthiest and Unhealthiest Cities in America report, the personal finance website WalletHub evaluated 182 U.S. cities according to dozens of metrics pertaining to healthcare, food, fitness, and green spaces. The data collected ranged from the cost of a medical visit and access to healthcare providers to premature death rates and COVID-19 cases.

“Other important factors include inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption and the share of adults who engage in physical activity,” says WalletHub’s analyst and communications director Jill Gonzalez. “The report aims to determine which cities prioritize their residents’ well-being.”

The methodology was established by WalletHub analysts in conjunction with academic experts. The metrics were chosen for relevance, as well as availability of data, Gonzalez says.

From Top (Congratulations, San Francisco!) to Bottom (Sorry, Brownsville)

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A certain City by the Bay topped the list of places with the most positive health and wellness data. Michela Ravasio/Stocksy

Here are the top 10 healthiest U.S. cities, according to the survey’s findings.

1. San Francisco, California

2. Seattle, Washington

3. Portland, Oregon

4. San Diego, California

5. Honolulu, Hawaii

6. Washington, DC

7. Austin, Texas

8. Irvine, California

9. Portland, Maine

10. Denver, Colorado

The 10 cities that landed on the bottom of the list:

173. Lubbock, Texas

174. Huntington, West Virginia

175. Jackson, Mississippi

176. Fort Smith, Arizona

177. Montgomery, Alabama

178. Memphis, Tennessee

179. Shreveport, Louisiana

180. Gulfport, Mississippi

181. Laredo, Texas

182. Brownsville, Texas

Is a City’s Health Tied to Its Wealth?

“Healthcare costs are rising, and we are going through one of the worst health crises in decades,” says Gonzalez.

Megan Irby, PhD, a senior research associate at the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, says that a city’s health appears to be closely tied to its wealth. “Income is the strongest predictor of health in our country,” she says.

Seven of the top 10 cities — Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, Washington, DC, and Irvine — also topped Kiplinger’s 2020 ranking of the 20 most expensive U.S. cities. According to Data USA, the median household income in San Francisco is $112,376 dollars a year, compared with an annual median household income of $36,499 dollars in Brownsville.

“Among the top ‘healthiest’ cities described in the WalletHub article, all have very high median incomes and are very expensive places to live, which indicates to me that health follows wealth,” says Dr. Irby. “But that likely is true only in the aggregate and applies only to those who are disproportionately more privileged.”

Inequities in Access to Health Resources

Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, points out that many of the cities at the bottom of the list are areas of lower income or communities where there are more people of color.

“Does a list like this take into account the health inequities that exist in these cities? That would mean not only do these cities have quality healthcare, greenspaces, and healthy foods, but does everyone have access to them?” asks Dr. Stanford.

“We can’t just look at those places and say that those are unhealthy places to live,” she says. “And if there are things about that city that make it a less healthy place to live, what are we doing to create equity within those communities?”

The Pandemic May Increase the Wellness Gap

The impact of COVID-19 on U.S. cities was another key factor in the survey results. “How well each city has been handling the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the physical and mental wellness of residents,” says WalletHub’s Gonzalez.

The pandemic has not only resulted in job losses nationwide, but it’s also transformed the way that many Americans work. According to data from Statista, a market research company, 44 percent of U.S. employees now work from home five or more days per week compared with 17 percent before the pandemic.

What will it mean if a segment of the population can work remotely from any city they choose? “I think it will continue to widen the disparities that already exist,” says Irby. “There are many communities where people don’t have the privilege of working from home.”

Irby uses her state, North Carolina, as a prime example. “Some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in our state were occurring in the Hispanic population where our chicken processing plants are located. These people didn’t have the option to work from home,” she says.

Jobs and income have been lost because of day care and school closings due to COVID-19, Irby says. “The more wealth and more access to privileges like working from home you have, the more you are able to protect yourself from the virus.”

This article was written by Becky Upham. The original can be found here.

Small Portland Catholic School Back to In-Person Sessions

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Credit: Cathedral School | 5th grade Cathedral School student

PORTLAND, Ore. — As more school districts across Oregon figure out plans to bring more kids into the classroom, there are some schools that have already brought students back for full-time in-person learning.

Many larger districts in the state have complicated decisions to make when it comes to how to safely offer limited in-person instruction for students.

But for some smaller schools, like Cathedral School in Northwest Portland, the transition has been a little easier.

“We are opening up, but it’s going to be far from business as usual,” said Amy Biggs. She’s the principal at Cathedral School, a private Catholic school serving kids in Pre-Kindergarten to eighth grade who are now in class for full-day, in-person learning.

“We have everyone here Pre-K through eighth grade that has chosen to come. We still have a distance learning option for our kids at home,” said Biggs.

She said 81% of the 260 students enrolled are choosing to attend in person.

In the fall, teachers taught kids online from their classrooms. The school soon brought back its youngest kids for limited in-person instruction. The majority of those kids were already participating in the school’s daycare program and were familiar with the school’s COVID-19 safety protocols, which made the transition to full in-person learning easier.

This week, middle school students joined younger students, coming back for full-day, in-person school.

Biggs said the size of the school along with the state’s revised guidelines and metrics have been crucial to reopening.

“Small schools like Cathedral School, 260 kids, 30 or fewer staff members, we can do things in a safe way because of our size and we don’t bus. We have one class at every grade, so it’s really appreciated because the revisions have helped us open up.”

Biggs said a number of safety measures are in place.

“We are using three different entrances to the building rather than one entrance […] we’re taking everyone’s temperatures. We’ve got contact tracing where we’re recording everyone who drops the kids off and who picks them up,” said Biggs.

They’ve also got shields on students’ desks, which they’ve tried to space apart.

“We have places where they’re not quite six feet, but I’ve got the 35 square feet in the whole room and then the distance between kids is maximum extent possible,” Biggs said. “We’re adhering to all ODE [Oregon Department of Education] standards.”

Biggs said right now in their middle school classrooms, there are between 21-25 kids in the room.

Students have to wear masks too, something Biggs initially thought might be an issue.

“Our kids that have been home are so excited to be back at school that all of our safety precautions, they are willing to do and they are really good at policing each other. It hasn’t been a problem at all. They’re used to wearing a mask. They’re used to hand sanitizer,” said Biggs.

The only time those masks come off is during lunch. Students stay at the same desk all day while teachers of different subjects rotate in and out.

For bathroom breaks, groups of kids go at designated times.

“Every hour one of my staff members is going through the bathrooms and spraying them all down with the electrostatic cleaning sprayer,” Biggs said.

Kids are grouped together into cohorts for recess as well.

Beth Sanchez has two children who attend Cathedral School, one in kindergarten and the other in sixth grade. She is excited her kids get to go back to in-person learning.

“We’re ecstatic really. We’re hoping that all the schools can get there. I think it’s so super important for kids to be in person,” said Sanchez.

She said while her sixth-grade son was doing well with online learning, she became concerned about the lack of socialization with peers.

“They need to have that interpersonal connection,” Sanchez said.

She said her son told her there were a lot of rules to follow. With this being his first week back, Sanchez said her son is figuring out what he can and can’t do.

She expressed confidence in the school and Biggs.

Biggs said before kids even came back, she asked parents to be partners and to talk to their kids about what to expect.

“Let them know ahead of time, you’re not going to get up and walk around the classroom,” said Biggs.

“I can’t have them all sitting on the top of the slide in a big pile like the eighth-grade girls love to do.”

She said she’s continuing to ask families to keep social distancing and wearing masks.

You can find the source article here.

How COVID-19 is Re-shaping Health Benefits in 2021

FamilyThe challenges of 2020 have sharpened our focus on health as never before. From the daunting COVID-19 pandemic to the destructive wildfire season, Oregon businesses and their employees have been tested in their capacity to thrive. Even before the pandemic, the health care experience could be overwhelming. Now it’s even harder to decide when and where to get care – while still managing costs. With the resurgence of COVID-19 and winter ahead, in-person care will be more challenging than ever. The impact of months of anxiety and isolation continues to make mental health an even greater concern. There’s no better time for a new solution to provide Oregonians tools and support to manage their health and well-being.

Simplifying health care’s complexity

The realities of our complex health care system have impacted so many employees and their families. It is particularly difficult for those who are responsible for managing the care of others, perhaps tending to the needs of an older family member or someone with a challenging health condition. There is considerable self-education required – learning about specific health issues, assessing treatment options and keeping track of prescriptions. It is common to need a variety of tools such as spreadsheets to track deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs and complex calendars for appointments with multiple providers.

Journi is a health care company based in Oregon that is making the total health care experience better. Journi brings together self-service tools, clinical expertise and human support to help manage a family’s health care needs – all in one place. In addition to digital tools, Journi Care Guides are ready to answer your health care questions and to help with everything from researching drug costs to scheduling appointments with the right provider for you.

“It’s why I chose to work for Journi,” says Coleen Carey, vice president of sales and marketing. “Journi relieves some of the hassle of managing our health care so I can focus more on my work and my family.” Carey adds, “I understand the realities of navigating a complex health care system as I manage care for my 14 year old daughter who experiences disability.” Like many, Carey is a part of the ‘sandwich generation,’ caring for both parent and child. “Journi helps me manage our health history, providers, medications and more in one place to keep things organized in a system that can seem overwhelming.”

Addressing health care access in a mobile-first world

A digital approach has become key to helping employees get the most from their health benefits, especially during the pandemic. They are accustomed to using apps to pay bills, deposit checks, and buy groceries right from their phones. In fact, they have readily embraced telehealth during the pandemic for doctor visits and mental and behavioral health support. It’s a trend expected to keep growing. In May 2020, McKinsey found that 76 percent of consumers say they will likely use telehealth going forward.

Available as a mobile app and connected to employer-sponsored health insurance, Journi provides convenient self-service tools and real-time access to clinical experts with concierge support that meets employees where they are in their health care needs continuum – all in a one-stop solution.

Making the human connection

Employees expect a digital experience to provide self-service convenience on-demand. Journi goes a step further, offering Care Guides who can connect the dots of health care. These support specialists can help with frustrating and often time-consuming tasks, such as finding in-network doctors and scheduling appointments or resolving questions about billing. If needed, they can also connect employees with a nurse or health coach via video, phone or email. It’s like having a personal health care assistant on call.

A healthier, more productive workforce in 2021

This year has taught us hard lessons: We’ve learned that health care innovation is no longer just “nice to have,” but critical to business success. And offering benefits for the whole person is the first step in meeting the day-to-day health needs of employees, families and communities. With comprehensive digital solutions like Journi, employees will be more engaged in their health care – boosting productivity and reducing costs for employers. And after the year we’ve had, that’s good news for all Oregonians.

The source of this article can be found here.

After a COVID Year, the Housing Market Continues to Favor the Seller

by Keely McCormick and KVAL.com Staff

LANE COUNTY, Ore. — Heading into the new year, the housing market continues to see low supply and high demand, and like many aspects of life in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic was a factor.

Inventory is extremely tight right now and is expected to stay that way throughout 2021. We spoke to one woman who just went through the home buying process, and she said she was lucky to find one.

“During the wildfires, the landlords decided to sell and they didn’t give us much time,” said Samora Walker, a recent home buyer.

Anya Samora Walker and her family had to find a home to buy in 6 short weeks, which is hard to do in this housing market.

“It’s been challenging, I have friends that have been looking for 2 years that haven’t found what fits there needs because houses are going thousands over the asking price,” Walker said.

And those prices will continue rising in the new year.

“It’s so competitive that you’ll get 5 to 10 offers on any given home and people just driving that price up,” said Robert Grand, the CEO of Grand Real Estate Investments.

Inventory initially dropped when the pandemic hit because people started to stay home rather than sell their homes, so when we’re used to seeing an influx of homes for sale in spring. 2020 didn’t have that.

This big new development is not a common site in Lane County. The reason for the high home prices is because of low inventory and limited land to build on.

“Here in Lane County and other parts of Oregon, there’s a lot of terrain and stuff like that so it’s not as easy to sprawl out,” said Grand.

But the demand for homes here is still high, as an influx of people are wanting to come live in Oregon.

Homes here are only on the market for an average of 33 days, but that depends on the home. Grand said an entry-level house priced around $350,000 may be on the market for only 4 to 5 days.

The median sale price for a home in Lane County increased 13.6 percent from 2019 to 2020. Grand said he’s expecting to see a similar trend in 2021.

Now the next big question is if we will see a lot of foreclosures because of the pandemic’s effect on the economy.

Even if we do see that happen, Grand said it would take a major influx to shift the housing market in the new year.

The source of the article can be found here.

Can ‘Vaccine Passports’ Be Required to Do Everyday Things?

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Syracuse breaks the on campus attendance record with 35,642 fans watching the Orange take on Duke at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY, Saturday February 23, 2019. Scott Schild | sschild@syracuse.comScott Schild | sschild@syracuse.

Jumping on a plane to a far-away beach, cheering on your favorite team or going on a shopping spree might seem like the perfect antidote to a brutal year.

But be prepared to get vaccinated before you do any of those things – proof of a Covid-19 vaccine may be required to take part in many leisure activities next year.

Ticketmaster, for example, recently warned that event organizers might require a vaccination before buying a ticket (the ticket giant won’t require proof on its own). Airlines are creating a potential “digital Covid-19 vaccine passport” for travelers. Cruise operators are looking into that, too.

And that’s completely legal.

In essence, a private business can decide who to allow on private property, whether that be an airplane, a sports arena, or a mall. And there’s no legal protection for those who refuse to get vaccinated and want to patronize a private business. (That’s aside from government mandates, which are not addressed here.)

Just like businesses can make you wear a mask, they can also require you show proof of vaccination, said Stewart Schwab, a professor of law at Cornell University. It’s the same legal right businesses have, for example, to refuse service to someone without a shirt or shoes.

There are really only two exceptions to the rule: people with a documented medical condition that makes them unable to take a vaccine, and those with a sincere religious belief against vaccines, Schwab said.

In either case, the burden is on you to show why you are unable to take the vaccine, Schwab said.

Of course, just because it’s legal to require a vaccine doesn’t mean that businesses will.

Due to the nature of flying, proof of a vaccine might be required sooner than other activities, according to industry experts.

But it’s much harder to police a vaccine mandate at a mall or inside a big-box store, Schwab noted.

There’s talk of a vaccine passport or card that people can carry around as proof. But what if someone says they have a medical disability or a religious exemption?

Sorting out those types of headaches might be more trouble than it’s worth for most retailers, Schwab suggested. Businesses might be more willing – especially at the beginning of the vaccine roll-out – to continue their facemask and social-distancing mandates that have become commonplace to this point.

At the end of the day, though, a customer is there at the permission of a private business.

“You gotta wear a mask to come into a store,” Schwab noted. “I think that’s basically well-accepted. Once they can do that, what’s the difference with a vaccine?”