NIC CEO Robert G. Kramer speaks at the 2017 Spring Investment Forum. (Photo by John O'Connor)

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care is awarding a $125,000 grant to independent social research organization NORC at the University of Chicago to study the demand for middle-market seniors housing, the organization formally announced Monday.

NIC CEO Robert G. Kramer shared details with McKnight’s Senior Living that build on the informal announcement he made last month at the group’s Spring Investment Forum in San Diego.

The 18-month study is part of a $300,000 commitment by NIC to examine the need for middle-market seniors housing, Kramer said. Most of the total not used for the actual research, he added, will be used to disseminate the results, including convening a meeting at which the results will be presented in the second half of 2018, perhaps separate from the group’s annual fall conference.

Researchers will focus on those whose income or assets are too high for Medicaid eligibility without a “spend down” but are too low to afford life in existing senior living communities, “at least for very long,” Kramer said.

NIC believes the information will be useful to capital providers and public policy experts and that public-private partnerships may be required to find solutions related to the housing and care needs of the “exploding” senior population, he added.

“But the first step is bringing attention to and understanding who is this middle-market population?” he said. “What’s their health and functional status? What can they afford? Where do they live? How big of a market is it? And so forth.”

NORC will project the size, demographics, health and functional status and the economic status of this population five, 10, 15 and 20 years from now, Kramer said.