September Blog – Social Accountability: A Community of Caring

In August, Horizon House hosted Steve Maag of LeadingAge (the association that represents nonprofit retirement communities across the country) who is an authority on social accountability—the ways in which nonprofit organizations express their mission and protect their tax-exempt status. Steve gave us a new understanding of what social accountability and being a nonprofit senior living community are all about. Clearly, for-profit and nonprofit retirement communities are different entities and provide different benefits to their residents.

In simple language, our Horizon House mission as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation requires that we be organized for a charitable purpose: providing elderly persons with housing facilities and services. We are also obliged to protect residents who, through no fault of their own, may run out of money. We are required to have a mix of moderate-income residents. We provide a “community benefit,” which is not currently required to retain our tax-exempt status, but tax laws could change. Once we fulfill all these legal requirements (which as you might guess are far more complex than stated here), we receive tax benefits from the federal and state governments: income tax and property tax exemptions, as well as finance savings through tax-exempt bonds.

In terms of our social accountability, Horizon House provides:
• Annual subsidies from our Residents Assistance Fund for those residents who have run out of funds through no fault of their own
• Periodic subsidies from our Entrance Assistance Program for those residents who can’t afford the whole entrance fee
• Affordable housing to 25% of total residents who satisfy the government’s moderate-income requirements

The community benefit part of social accountability—in the words of our mission statement, “service to the broader community”—consists of:
• Donations of space and volunteer time in support of groups like Virginia Mason, Plymouth Housing, Mary’s Place, and the Parkinson’s Support Group
• The Community Grants Program, which in 2014 is directing grants totaling $70,000 to nonprofit community organizations aligned with our mission, vision, and values

Horizon House is proud of our nonprofit status, which provides such significant benefits to our residents, and our 53-year tradition of service—both to our residents and to the community in which we live and thrive.

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