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Housing Expert Chooses Wesley for Retirement

Future Wesley Des Moines resident Kim Herman has always thought deeply about housing. He watched his hometown of Opportunity disappear when it was incorporated into Spokane. The transition made the once rural community less affordable for many residents.

Early Career and Advocacy

After graduating from Washington State University, Kim spent 1967-1969 in the Peace Corps. He worked on housing projects in the Dominican Republic. That was the beginning of his long career in housing.

When Kim returned, he worked on affordable housing domestically. That included a stint in Mississippi from 1971-1975. He returned to Washington State in 1981. Three years later, he became executive director of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC).

“My first year, the housing commission only financed single-family homes,” Kim recalled. “We returned to the legislature the following session to gain multifamily and senior housing funding. We continued constructing programs to finance affordable senior living yearly for the remainder of my 35-year tenure.”

Personal Living Decisions

At 75 years of age and newly retired, Kim decided to turn his attention to his own retirement living plan. He first made a list of 10 Puget Sound area senior communities he’d helped finance at WSHFC, including Wesley.

“We helped finance three Wesley projects, including the redeveloped campus,” he said. “The Center Point apartments where I am going to live are just being finished now.”

Kim’s initial decision to relocate to a retirement community mirrored his objective selection process.

“I’ve watched a number of my colleagues try to organize their parents’ movement to retirement communities,” he said. “But the best ones were often full, with long waiting lists. They were forced to relocate their parents to less desirable locations. I didn’t want to put my kids in that position. Plus, I don’t like living alone.”

Kim had also watched his father resist his own move. It was an obstinance he had no interest in imitating.

“My stepmother, a nurse, knew it was time for them to join a senior community. My father agreed after he discovered mutual friends who lived there,” said Kim. “However, on the day of the move, he refused to budge from his recliner, the last remaining furniture in their home. My stepmother responded, ‘If you want to have dinner, you need to join me at six at the new place.’ My father showed up at six-thirty.”

Choosing Wesley Des Moines

Kim’s personal living decision came down to two communities. He credits Wesley with creating an excellent opportunity to meet current community members, ask questions, and visit the campus’s amenities.

“I’ve already met so many people at Wesley,” he said. “I was excited to learn about the 20-plus campus organizations, from model train enthusiasts to cooking and study groups. I like to stay busy; joining clubs is also a great way to find new friends with similar interests. Additionally, Rob Lanouette does such a great job with potential residents. When I told him about my Peace Corps experience, he found three current residents who also served. One Peace Corps member will soon be a hallmate of mine!”

Kim said he and his children also appreciate the objective benefits to senior living communities.

“When you have a senior community like Wesley, you move in as an independent person, then transition into the different phases of your life. You never have to leave the campus. And you have friends by your side the whole time, whether you move into The Commons or memory care. You don’t have to make a last-minute move without friends or move out of desperation,” said Kim.”

Insights and Advice

Kim, who was heralded as “a powerful champion for affordable housing in Washington” in a 2018 Affordable Housing Finance profile, notes one’s budget is also important to consider when selecting senior living. He credits his extensive research with finding a location that possessed the specified assets within his budget.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to go visit and spend some time at places that interest you,” he said. “I narrowed my list to five properties I was most interested in. I was then invited to a meal or a presentation for potential residents where I could ask current community members candid questions and thoroughly discuss their answers. I came away thinking Wesley Des Moines will provide a great opportunity for this next phase of my life.”

Kim has championed the benefits of proper residence for almost six decades. Like a college student stepping onto campus for the first time, he’s eager to begin his new life as a resident at Wesley Des Moines.