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A growing number of urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods are developing innovative models to integrate older adults in new and existing kinds of housing and neighborhood residences.

Foundations can help to launch and support models to help older adults remain in their home and community such as these:

Co-housing, a type of collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their own neighborhoods, is springing up across the nation. The Cohousing Association of the United States (Coho/US), a national nonprofit organization that offers resources, technical assistance, and other support to new and existing cohousing communities, launched a new Aging in Cohousing initiative in 2017 to support the creation of age-friendly cohousing communities—both multi-generational and for older adults only—in the U.S.

Coho/US also offers a state-by-state directory of existing and planned communities. For example, ElderSpirit Community in Abingdon, VA, is a 29-household neighborhood committed to spiritual growth and mutual supports. A more self-directed approach in Davis, CA, involved 12 individuals who knew each other from their church. They created their own community, Glacier Circle, by buying land and eight homes together. An additional house has common living space, kitchen and dining rooms for meals together and an apartment for a skilled nurse to live and provide care to the residents.

Affordable Living for the Aging (ALA) is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that provides older people with affordable housing, low-income apartment referrals, and resources to find roommates and supportive services. Under the organization’s Shared Housing program, ALA screens and matches two or more unrelated people to share a home in exchange for rent or services such as cleaning or cooking. Archstone Foundation approved three grants totaling $111,000 to support the shared housing initiative.

As the baby boom generation ages, some have chosen to go back to college — to live. Across the nation, University-Based Retirement Communities have sprung up either on or close to university and college campuses. They offer lifelong learning opportunities as well as access to academic, cultural, and social activities. For example, Lasell Village is a residential retirement community located on the Lasell College campus in Newton, MA. Some 225 older people reside in its independent living apartments, and the village also offers a nine-apartment supported living unit and a 38-bed skilled nursing facility.

Kendal at Home in Oberlin, OH, developed a program to bring a continuum of care into the home so older adults can age in place and remain active and independent for as long as possible. Members of Kendal at Home gain access to a care coordinator who works with the member and his or her physician to develop a plan designed to help the older person stay healthy and maintain the highest level of independence. The Cleveland Foundation provided a planning grant of $50,000 to help make this program possible.

HomeSharing, Inc., in Bridgewater, NJ, provides an affordable housing option for older adults living in Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset, and Union counties and the Montclair area. The agency helps prevent homelessness by matching “providers”—residents who need to share their homes or apartments in order to maintain them—with “seekers”—individuals searching for affordable housing in the community. HomeSharing helps its clients in locating and utilizing other resources such as the Food Bank, low-cost medical care, and other support services. The organization’s services are provided free of charge.

In Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, the Plough Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis teamed up to provide repairs, weatherization and mobility and accessibility modifications to the homes of 500 low-income older adults.

The Plough Foundation awarded a two-year, $4 million grant to a collaborative led by Habitat for Humanity that also included Service Over Self (SOS) and Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

A-HOME rehabilitates, builds, and manages affordable rental housing in northern Westchester County, N.Y., for older adults, disabled individuals, and single parent families who, because of age, disability, or family status, cannot afford market rates., The nonprofit organization has nine houses for older adults, including two intergenerational properties. Case management is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and volunteers are available to residents when needed for help getting to appointments and enhancing their quality of life and integration into their neighborhood. A coalition of 24 local civic and religious organizations supports A-HOME with funding and volunteers. A-HOME has received both charitable corporate contributions and foundation grants.

In Baltimore, the Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors (HUBS) program was created in 2015 to connect vulnerable older adults with vital home repair services for which they are eligible. But limited funding and systemic challenges have hampered the initiative, causing a backlog of more than 600 low-income older adults waiting—some for as long as three years—to receive vital home repairs to their roofs, furnaces, and hot water heaters. To clear the backlog and ensure quicker responses in the future, the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation has committed $3.5 million, which will leverage more than $8 million in additional funding, including city and state dollars, creating a total program budget of nearly $12 million.

Rebuilding Together, a national initiative designed to preserve affordable homeownership and revitalize communities, is the largest volunteer home rehabilitation organization for low-income older adult and disabled homeowners. It has more than 140 affiliates across the nation, and local funders can support their work and help them grow. For example, Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) in Florida made a $24,300 grant to Rebuilding Together Orlando (RTO) to support volunteer efforts to provide free health- and safety-related improvements in 11 homes over two years in Eatonville as part of Rebuilding Together’s annual National Rebuilding Day. The foundation also provided a $19,400 capacity-building grant to help RTO move into new office space in Altamonte Springs and add staff. And Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis awarded a $30,000 grant to Rebuilding Together St. Louis to assist with repairs and modifications to the homes of older adults during an area-wide volunteer repair day.

The Texas Ramp Project enlists volunteers of all ages to build ramps for low-income older adults and individuals with disabilities throughout Texas. Since 2006, a total of 422,000 volunteers have built more than 14,000 ramps that would cover 70 miles if laid end to end. Saint David’s Foundation has provided more than $360,000 in grants to fund ramps in South and Central Austin since 2007.

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