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Housing For Inter-Generational Families In Southern California

By Tabitha Naylor

Families struggle with balancing work and the demands of raising children. Time has proven that when kids are left alone, without supervision, often drop out of school, or get involved in drugs or gangs. Seniors, on the other hand, want to spend their elder years at home being productive and useful rather than being sent away to a residential care home to wither away. Cities have the issue of providing affordable housing for all generations. With space and density issues increasing, intergenerational housing developments are growing in popularity and proving to meet the needs of all generations and the affordable housing demand cities face.

In Southern California, Related California has developed over 7.500 residential units in California is a strong proponent of intergenerational housing. President, William White states "For appropriate sites, intergenerational housing continues to be a model of great interest to us. Most communities have affordable housing needs for both seniors and families, and many are reluctant to approve new developments that only serve large families with children."

Intergenerational housing developments are a twist on intergenerational homes that accommodate more than one generation under the same roof. Intergenerational communities meet the needs of both seniors and families with floor plans and layouts that cater to the needs of each generation and allow multi-generational families the ability to live near one another to make care easier as well as provide for those who want a mixed community and the benefits of having multiple generations living in a small village environment.

Related California has opened two intergenerational developments in Southern California. In 2008 they opened Shield Village and Tivoli Plaza in Pomona, California. The project was a collaboration between Related California, Shield of Faith Economic Development, Union Bank and the City of Pomona. The City redevelopment agency provided 3.7 million dollars of redevelopment funds.

The architect designed spaces throughout the project to encourage interaction between seniors and families and also focused on accommodating the specific needs of each generation. Senior plans were designed with a universal approach to accessibility and adaptability to accommodate health issues of residents as they age. Family townhomes are residential and offer both space and privacy.

Residents are discovering many benefits to intergenerational housing developments. Seniors feel less isolated and segregated and families are benefitting from the stability and the mature attitudes of seniors. There is also evidence that in intergenerational communities 80% of older adults volunteer to work with children providing mentoring, homework assistance and after school supervision. Seniors find a greater sense of self-worth and the extra support they are able to offer families in the form of babysitting, supervision and social interaction with the community children is reducing aggressive behaviors, drug use and resulting in greater academic achievement for children living in the community.

Southern California is embracing the intergenerational housing trend because it is removing barriers to affordable housing, improving the social situation for both seniors and children, helping cities to meet densification targets and improving the overall quality of the housing available to large families and seniors. Families and seniors are also embracing the concept. Extended families can live in the same development next to one another, or in very close proximity to one another yet still benefit from having separate living spaces designed to meet their own specific needs. Intergenerational housing developments are a win-win situation for everyone.

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