Griffin Living Senior Housing Projects Thrive Despite the Pandemic

Even now, our senior housing projects are not just full: they are oversubscribed.

At first glance, one might include senior housing on this list of industries most hurt by the pandemic. If the annual flu poses a substantial threat to seniors in assisted living, COVID has been devastating. Though everyone is familiar with notorious examples of outbreaks in senior housing facilities, the news is better than it might seem. Among the 75,000 active senior living centers, very few have had major outbreaks. And because the senior population continues to grow every day, so does the need for safe and active centers.

Griffin Living continues to experience strong demand at its six active projects. For example, Varenita of Westlake Village is preparing to welcome its first residents in March and already is fully subscribed (it actually has a waitlist). Varenita of Simi Valley , opening in later in the year, is 65% leased. At the in Atlanta, out of 180 units and cottages, 85% are leased.

Even in this time of COVID, senior care is a necessity for those who require 24 hour assisted living care. The alternative for the needs-based segment of assisted living is the same 24-hour care, but provided by in-home staff, which is prohibitively expensive for most families. Consumer behavior is showing that the need for housing that can deliver this care outweighs worry about the pandemic for prospective residents and their families.

For developers whose projects are experiencing a short-term decrease in demand during the pandemic, investors know that housing is a long-term play. The housing market is driven more by the availability of capital and the price of debt (and therefore by large economic fluctuations) than by consumer behavior in a given year. COVID will not put senior housing developers out of business.

COVID might not affect demand for needs-based senior housing, but it will likely change the industry because it has transformed the public’s understanding of infectious diseases in vulnerable populations. One of the measures by which residents and families assess senior housing options is preparedness for outbreaks. Griffin Living was ahead of the curve, installing N-95 mask level filtration systems in our senior living communities before anyone had heard of COVID. We have also made significant infrastructure investments in response to COVID, like sanitizing lights on high traffic surfaces and temperature check kiosks at building entrances.

COVID has transformed industries in ways that have yet to be understood. But, as the strong performance of Griffin Living’s projects during the pandemic shows, the need for seniors to live in housing that is safe, comfortable, and dignified will continue to grow.

David L. Griffin is Senior Vice President, Construction Operations, at Griffin Living.

Originally published at on December 15, 2020.

An award-winning, privately-owned real estate development company specializing in innovative senior living projects.

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