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In Charlottesville, a New Model for Intergenerational, Affordable Housing

AARP Foundation supports trailer-park redevelopment

Habitat for Humanity is transforming a trailer park in Charlottesville, Va., into a new model for affordable, intergenerational housing, with some help from AARP Foundation.

See also: Keeping a housing promise to seniors in Virginia.

AARP Foundation: A New Model for Intergenerational, Affordable Housing in Charlottesville

Workers build a home at Sunrise Park, in front of completed houses. The 66-unit development is scheduled to be finished in 2013. — Photo by Brian Berry

In 2011, AARP Foundation — the charitable affiliate of AARP — made a grant of $235,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville to support the construction of Sunrise Park, a community of single-family homes, duplexes and condominiums located in the heart of the city.

The project is part of Habitat for Humanity's new strategy to address the area's affordable housing problem and at the same time create homes where people can age in place.

"There's a need to create intergenerational housing, because we don't necessarily believe in the model of silos where elderly are 'here' and young people are 'here,'" said Dan Rosensweig, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville. "We think that this is a better model, an intentional intergenerational community, where, in a daily way, 80-year-olds can interact with 8-year-olds … This is mixed income and it's intergenerational, so we're trying to do something a little bit different, and it's on a bus line, it's walkable to downtown and to the little commercial district, so people can live there without cars if they need to."

Design

Sunrise Park occupies one full city block and when complete will contain up to 66 housing units, including 20 duplex houses, 20 single family homes and a condo building with 15 apartments. Sunrise Park was designed as a community hub to bring together neighborhood residents and people from the larger Belmont-Carlton community. In the center is a large, communal "backyard" space of 50,000 square feet, or roughly one-third of the overall footprint, to promote socializing, play and community activities. Construction at Sunrise Park began in spring 2011, the first homeowners moved in that fall and full build-out will be complete in 2013.

The new homes are replacing 16 aging trailer homes — in fact, the project is the first trailer park redevelopment in the country that does not displace residents. That's because Habitat for Humanity promised the mobile home residents they can stay for the rest of their lives, either as Habitat partner families or in affordable rentals.

Nine families from the mobile homes will take up residence in the new condos, and eight of the nine have family members age 65 and over. Twenty-two Habitat Partner Families, most with children, and some single individuals will occupy the other homes or condos within the revitalized community.

Next: New community reflects AARP Foundation priorities. >>

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Older People And
HOUSING

Whether people 50+ own or rent, the repercussions from the recession are severe - abandoned neighborhoods, rent increases and a decrease in affordable, subsidized housing. Millions of homeowners can neither sell their homes nor receive approval to refinance their mortgages at today’s much lower interest rates. 

 

Today:

  • 19 million adults 50+ live in unaffordable or unsafe housing
  • Nearly 25% of household mortgages are underwater - meaning the mortgage is larger than the current value of the house.
  • Foreclosures have been at record levels.

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New Technologies to Help Seniors Age in Place

(The Wall Street Journal, June 2014) - As the population grows older, engineers and health experts are searching for new ways to prevent elderly people from injuring themselves at home. In doing so, they hope to keep people in their homes longer, a concept known as aging in place. Read

Government Recalls Bed Rails After Reported Deaths

(AARP, May 2014) - The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the voluntary recall of more than 100,000 adult bed rails that it says can pose a serious risk of entrapment, strangulation and death. Read

Architects Live in Senior Spaces to Help Elderly

(USA Today, May 2014) - Young architects move into senior housing and live with the people they were designing housing for so they can get a feel for the needs and requirements of the residents. Read