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Generations Unite: A New Housing Model

November 22nd, 2016 by

In this time of perceived competition for scarce resources, intergenerational housing may be the solution to cross the generation gap while satisfying shared needs. More retirees are resisting the “Shady Acres” model of senior housing where age restrictions rule and separation from children and young adults is established through a gated community. Intergenerational housing models are becoming more popular and varied, from single-family homes in close-knit communities to roommates sharing a multi-room building.

Rendered Site Plan

Glenarden site plan showing senior apartment building, shared community building, and a variety of family housing units

Currently in design at Marks, Thomas Architects, the Glen Arden Project provides townhomes for families and apartments for seniors in a community of over 400 affordable rental and for-sale housing units. This mixed community shares a central green, a community building with fitness, meeting and study facilities, as well as health and café amenities. The apartment building is restricted to older adult residents, but it is an integral part of a walkable community with accessible shared amenities.

Generations Unite

In another intergenerational design, roommates can share a home’s internal public spaces while still having separate bedrooms. Multi-generational homes operated in Chicago by Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly, a non-profit organization that works to provide Chicago seniors with innovative housing options, have college-age resident assistants who live with seniors seeking affordable housing. Resident assistants receive free room and board in exchange for regular duties, such as helping with laundry and taking turns cooking for the seniors on weekends.

Marks Thomas / Kreider Commons

Shared lobby area at Kreider Commons Senior Housing project

New co-housing projects are being built across the country, and there are currently over 100 already built and occupied in the U.S. For example, Rocky Hill Cohousing in Massachusetts is a multi-generational community built in response to the recession. A group of extended families were looking for a way to share costs and services, and they believed shared housing was the way to do that. In their housing model, they share equipment, care services, dinners, gardens, chores, and interior and exterior community spaces.

All these intergenerational models share services. Elderly residents have a need for supportive services, as does today’s workforce. Working parents need day care services, meal preparation and home maintenance, just as the elderly do. Multi-generational housing can provide those services through its occupants as well as sharing outside resources. Shared housing models may be the answer to the tremendous need for affordable housing for both the first-time home buyer and the non-working retiree.

Marks Thomas / Kreider Commons

Lounge and book share library and Kreider Commons Senior Housing project

Multigenerational co-housing is not for everyone. Noisy kids and raucous teenagers may interrupt your idea of the perfect retirement, but if you’re seeking to remain in a non-separated environment as you grow older, new intergenerational housing models may be the answer.

Learn more about new senior housing models by watching our webinar, “Designing the Future of Senior Housing: The Market, Emerging Trends and New Models.”