Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Affordable Housing for Young & Old

Hi - it's Tatjana. 

Upon the death of my mother-in-law, Meta Buchheim, last November 26th, 2013, I channeled my experience and energy of grief into a new project: The Senior Roommate Housing Project Mar Vista - exploring how we might redefine independent living for seniors.

To see a write up featured in the Mar Vista Neighborhood Association see here (page 2), written by Jean Roth, owner of Rotem Design Studio. Jean attended my MOVE! Women's Conference in  2013. Little did we know that our paths will cross again. 2 weeks after Meta's passing, I received a text from Jean.Turns out Jean and my mother-in-law are cousins, 2nd generation. They only lived a few miles from one another, for the past 18th years, and had no idea about each other's existence. Strange how we got connected after Meta's death. Meta would have loved Jean! 

On March 8th, 2014 I hosted my first community event on the topic. Venue was courtesy of Sivandanda Yoga Vedanta Center in Los Angeles. Purpose: to explore the interest, needs, goals and desires of our seniors (and adult children of seniors) as it relates to prolonging independent living in private homes, hence the concept of collaborative roommate housing as an affordable option.

To my surprise, 15 out of the 18 attendees where women. One woman was a home owner, whereas 70% of the attendees were women in their middle ages seeking "affordable housing" for themselves.

Affordable Housing for young and old:
It's obvious that the need for affordable housing and caring for each other is not just affecting our seniors. Affordable housing is affecting everyone. With the crash of the economy in 2008, many women and men found themselves unemployed for the first time, not only catalyzing an identity crisis, but truly stretching our most basic survival needs. Some may have consciously opted out from the corporate culture. Others enjoyed new life events of becoming mothers yet still need to stay engaged in the working world. Unfortunately corporate family policies in the US are not the greatest, not allowing for the flexibility that parents need. Then there is the experience of "age discrimination". And others recognize the gap in skill-development within today's fast moving world of ever changing technology. Regardless the reason that led to unemployment, we all seem to face a time of "transition". Not being able to pay rent and have a stable home makes it hard to "reinvent" oneself. Hence, a home sharing arrangement might just be the solution for old and young as we collectively navigate a new future of a "shared economy".

Below are the findings of the 2-hour process I facilitated on March 8th. I engaged the group into a conversation around:
  • Current challenges around independent living
  • Impact on children becoming caregivers
  • Exploring existing and new living solutions
  • Benefits for homeowners renting out
  • Benefits for home seekers renting from a home owner

If you would like to organize a group of 10 - 20 people who are interested in this topic let me know. I'm happy to facilitate the process to get a "conversation" started in your neighborhood.

Here are a few resources I gathered over the last couple months. I received these from varies women and men interested in this concept of supporting our seniors in our community, as well as creating "affordable housing for young and old".

Audio / Interview:
Listen to my interview I conducted with Rachel Caraviello, VP, Programs and Services at ALA - a nonprofit that provides seniors with affordable housing, low-income apartment referrals, and resources to find roommates and supportive services:
Affordable Living for the Aging

Home sharing: A growing option for many older adults
Female Baby Boomers Are Pioneering a New Housing Model
Golden Girl Homes - Advancing Shared Housing

Other Resources:
Find and hire senior home caregivers
National Shared Housing Directory

So long for now!

- Tatjana
Tatjana Luethi 
Designer, Coach, Host, Producer
My Blog: How to create successful events?
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