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Intergenerational Community as Intervention.

Hackett, Silvana Esposito.

The purpose of this report is to inform the City of Roseville Housing and Redevelopment Authority about the needs of families with children and of seniors in the northern suburbs of St. Paul. It also explores the feasibility of an intergenerational housing model, which would revolve around a community of interactive affordable senior and family housing, as a possible means to address those needs.

Key Findings ― The needs assessment conducted for the purpose of this study yielded the following results:

  • In Ramsey County, the majority of foster care cases are concentrated in St. Paul. The number of active foster care cases from the North Suburban Ramsey County area has declined within the last five years. As such, the permanency and stability problems of the foster care population were secondary to issues surrounding other populations.
  • Interviews conducted with agencies providing direct services to families with children in the area identified the issue of “suburban homelessness” as an important barrier for families in achieving stability and permanency. Incidences of mobility among families have increased.
  • Families in the area have been adversely affected by unemployment and underemployment and are increasingly utilizing social service resources. Families that have never accessed publicly provided social services before are making up more of the new clients seen by direct service providers. An increase in migration to the suburban areas has also increased demand for services. Interviews with senior housing developers and direct service providers as well as results from a survey of Roseville seniors indicates that while seniors would prefer to stay in their homes, health concerns eventually force them to find alternate housing arrangements.
  • Interviews with staff from intergenerational housing programs across the nation testified to the effectiveness of these types of programs at promoting permanency and stability among target populations. Though some challenges were identified, program staff stated that they had not experienced problems attracting seniors or families to their service-intensive housing programs. Intergenerational models varied by housing program. The Generations of Hope Communities model was identified as the most effective model to address the needs of families with permanency and stability issues.

Policy Implications ― Some of the key findings listed above create opportunities for the destabilization of families. The literature review conducted in this study suggests that mobility and instability among families can adversely affect the academic performance of children and the physical and emotional health of all family members. These factors are also linked to increased behavioral problems in children, which can affect their ability to become productive adults and have long-term financial implications.

Recommendations ― The key findings above also suggest that housing alone cannot address the underlying issues facing families or seniors in North Suburban Ramsey County. An intergenerational housing approach that is focused around integrated service provision may address the problems of both housing instability among families and provide opportunities for a better quality of life for seniors who choose to participate. This report includes an exploration of alternatives to intergenerational housing as an intervention, but further research is required to understand how these alternatives should be evaluated in the context of what the Roseville Housing and Redevelopment Authority is seeking to accomplish.

Publication date: 
Conducted on behalf of City of Roseville Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Supported by Neighborhood Partnerships for Community Research (NPCR), a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
44 pp.
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