Golden Girls 2.0: Shared housing as a retirement strategy

I have a sister who is two years younger than me, who got divorced in her 30’s and has never remarried.  Although she still has an occasional beau, her girl friends are the mainstay of her life—there through thick and thin.  She currently lives alone in a 3 bedroom home, but she has always said that when she retires, she wants to live in a “Golden Girls home” like the characters on the TV show of that same name.  I think it’s a great idea and apparently I’m not alone, as this article from Reuters Money explains:

“Those Golden Girls may have been on to something. Alternative living arrangements — like the group house featured in the popular 80′s sitcom — are gaining steam among retired women, affording them a higher standard of living, in-home support services and companionship while aging in place.

Want to employ that personal chef you’ve always dreamed about? What about a pool and a view of the 18th hole? With women living at least five years longer than men on average, home sharing — which is dominated by women — helps them maintain or even elevate the quality of life in retirement.

Homesharing allows participants to continue a certain kind of lifestyle that they may not be able to afford when they are out of the workforce, single or widowed. That’s really the most compelling reason to share a home, but companionship is a big draw, says Nancy Thompson, AARP spokesperson. “It’s nice to have company, to remark about something to someone, or to share your interests,” she says.

“I’ve often said I wanted to live like the Golden Girls,” says Marianne Kilkenny, home share advocate and founder of Women for Living in Community. Kilkenny, 61, shares an Ashville, North Carolina home with four other renters — two women and a married couple — ranging in age from 58 to 71. “For boomer women, we’re the first generation that has had the financial means to be able to live on our own for any length of time and are finding that it gets really old because you have to count only on yourself,” she says.

A sense of belonging and peace of mind is integral, says Kilkenny, adding shared housing has allowed her to live in a nicer home with better appliances in a swankier neighborhood. “One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night,” she says, quoting Margaret Mead. “For those of us who have been single, these are the things you don’t know you are missing.”

In 2010, there were approximately 480,000 baby boomer women living with at least one female non-relative roommate and no spouses, according to an AARP analysis of population survey data. That’s approximately 130,000 Golden-Girl type households across the country.

via Golden Girls 2.0: Shared housing as a retirement strategy | Reuters Money.

Here in Portland, if you’re a mature adult and you  want to find equally mature—and compatible—housemates,  the person to contact is Michele at Let’s Share Housing Together (www.letssharehousing.com/) who will help you make the perfect match.  And who knows? If they decide to re-make the Golden Girls, they may just come and cast you!

Making a Village: steps along the way

We had our second parlor meeting for the VillagePDX project on Sunday.  Again, an awesome group of smart, thoughtful people showed up, full of questions, good suggestions and offers of help.

One of the offers was to help “formalize/standardize” the parlor meeting presentation I’ve been giving so other people could also present it.  I think this is a grand idea and am excited to have help developing it.   So thank you in advance!

It was requested that I put the initial steps to “Making a Village” (which were listed on the white board we use for the presentation) on this blog.  The steps are nothing you wouldn’t expect if you thought the process through and the order is flexible. But here they are:

Making a Village
(initial steps)

  • Hold informational meetings and get the word out.
  • Develop informational handouts.
  • Identify ways volunteers can help support the project and enlist their help.
  • Assemble a task force/core team that is committed to this vision and can put their energy toward its manifestation for 2-3 years.
  • Research existing villages across the country and study different village models.
  • Define the village’s geographic boundaries (may be adjusted later).
  • Identify strategic partners and make strategic partnerships.
  • Line up pro bono professional services.
  • Arrange for a fiscal sponsor and raise seed money.
  • Find a “home” and meeting places.
  • Develop a mission statement.
  • Set village goals.
  • Name the village.
  • Research and develop a community profile.
  • Design, administer and analyze a community survey/needs assessment.
  • Develop a workable model for this specific village.
  • Define the target audiences.
  • Define the scope of services.
  • Set membership fees.
  • Develop a business plan.
  • Elect a Board of Directors.
  • Establish the village as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
  • Develop & produce promotional materials.
  • Publicize the village.
  • Recruit members and additional supporters.
  • Fundraise!!!

Lastly, if you are interested in attending one of the Village PDX parlor meetings, we still have some space in the meetings on Sunday April 22 at 3pm and Thursday May 3 at 7pm.  Just email info@villagepdx.org to reserve your place.

Trying to Figure Out the Size and Boundaries for a Portland Village: What’s “Just Right”?

Last night was the first parlor meeting for the Village PDX  project.   Seven smart, interesting, inquisitive folks showed up and we had a wonderful discussion with lots of insightful comments and questions.   So a great way to kick-off the first of 5 parlor meetings happening over the next 3 weeks.  The parlor meetings on 4/15 and 4/19 are already full, but if you’re interested in attending either the Sunday 4/22 at 3pm or Thursday 5/3 at 7pm parlor meetings, there’s still some space. Just email us at info@villagepdx.org to RSVP and get directions.

One of the questions that comes up the most wherever we talk about the village project is some variation on “How big will the village be?” and “Will there be more than one village in Portland?” and “How do you decide where the village boundaries should be?”

We know from talking to the founders of some of the existing villages on the East Coast that they have been expanding their villages’ boundaries to include surrounding neighborhoods/ townships.  But I don’t know how to apply that information to thinking about villages here in Portland.

Next Monday, we will be talking to one of the founders of the NEST village in Seattle, which just opened earlier this year. So that got me thinking, maybe they have something on the NEST website about how they decided about their boundaries that would help me explain “village size/boundaries” better?   Here’s what I found:

Q: What neighborhoods are included in NEST?

A: The boundaries are the ship canal north to NE 110th, and I-5 to Lake Washington.  This includes the Bryant, Hawthorne Hills, Inverness, Laurelhurst, Maple Leaf, Matthews Beach, Meadowbrook, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Sandpoint, University District, View Ridge, Wedgwood, and Windermere neighborhoods. [14 total]

Q: Why not include all of Seattle?

A: The richness of the village concept is that it is rooted in a given geographic area and engages residents of all ages to volunteer in their neighborhood.  If the area is too large, the power of building neighborly connections is lost.  We hope that NEST can inspire other areas of Seattle to develop their own village and we could work collaboratively to build a supportive network.  Currently, there is discussion at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (NW Seattle) and on Bainbridge Island about starting such villages.

via NEST faq.

So, the long and the short of it seems to be: “The richness of the village concept is that it is rooted in a given geographic area and engages residents of all ages to volunteer in their neighborhood.  If the area is too large, the power of building neighborly connections is lost. ”  On the other hand, as we have learned from our talks with some of the village founders, if the geographic area is too small, there  may not be enough interested residents to join the village and keep it going.  Which makes this all sound more than a little like Goldilock’s search for the “just right” sized bed.

I know there are approximately12,000 residents aged 65-plus in the section of Seattle that will be served by the NEST village.  So population may be one way to look at it.  I also know that existing resources for seniors available in the area factor in.  Maybe printing out  a map of Seattle so I can see how much of the city the NEST village will encompass would help?

If you have suggestions about how to think about this–or explain it better—please let me know!

First “Parlor Meetings” for Village PDX Scheduled

According to the founders of the other Villages we have spoken to, the first step to getting a Village going is begin holding parlor meetings and bringing together potential founders and stakeholders.

To that end, anyone who thinks they may be interested in helping get a village going in their neighborhood (no matter where in the Portland metro-area) is invited to attend one of the first VillagePDX parlor meetings on either Thursday, April 12 at 7:00pm or Sunday, April 15 at 3:00pm at our home is SE Portland. To RSVP, get directions, or for additional info, please send an email to info@villagepdx.org.

Looking forward to seeing many of you at a meeting and getting this project going!

Chana and Richie Andler

Small Bathroom Remodel Brings Big ‘Aging in Place’ Benefits to Portland Home

Check it out! I recently stumbled upon this article about remodeling a very small  Portland-area bathroom in order to make the owner’s house aging-friendly.  It’s great to know even a tiny space can be creatively adapted and made to work.

A 3′ by 3′ space can make or break a home’s suitability for aging in place.  That’s the lesson that Hammer & Hand project manager Alex Daisley came away with after performing what is surely the Portland remodeling contractor’s tiniest small bathroom remodel to date.

via Small Bathroom Remodel Brings Big ‘Aging in Place’ Benefits to Portland Home.