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Healthcare and Housing Intersection–Report of Recent Panel

Published on 3/10/2023
The Healthcare Issues Team and the Housing Team hosted a panel discussion on February 20th 2023, Housing for Older Adults and People with Disabilities. The panel focused on the challenges that older adults and persons with disabilities face when seeking appropriate housing.  

Moderated by Lara Welker, a consultant for groups collaborating in community health improvement, the panelists included Karen Burke, CEO YWCA, Brien Thane, Executive Director of Bellingham and Whatcom Housing Authorities, and Amanda McDade, Executive Director of the Northwest Regional Council.  

Lara Welker provided an overview of the Aging Well Whatcom Blueprint, a vision of community where everyone is able to age well, developed by the Chuckanut Health Foundation. The panelists followed up with information about current housing challenges for older adults, specifically noting the difficulties of older women who are homeless, and persons with disabilities. Some of the challenges that these individuals face are:


  • The high cost and unavailability of housing, assisted living, and long-term care facilities (particularly for those on Medicaid).
  • The lack of sufficient housing that can accommodate those with disabilities, and the lack of in-home supportive services.
  • Transportation difficulties for persons who do not drive.
  • The risk, for some, that they might lose their home while temporarily receiving higher levels of care.


The panelists described ways in which these problems currently are being addressed and noted future plans. You can find more information here on the Housing page.