Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) is a non-profit organisation based in Chicago that is dedicated to helping older people remain independent and part of their community.

H.O.M.E. offers intergenerational housing in three safe, affordable buildings where seniors either live in private apartments or within ‘Good Life Residences’, which are aimed at older people who need some assistance. Here older people, young adults and families with children all live in the same building in a family-like environment.

The assistants are young people of college-age who work approximately 20 hours per week in the ‘Good Life Residences’ in exchange for full room and board. As part of the living arrangement, each Assistant gets their own bedroom, but they share bathrooms, living spaces and snacks in the refrigerator. Assistants must commit to live at H.O.M.E for a year, but many stay on for two. 

H.O.M.E has clearly had a positive effect on the lives of the people who live there. It provides a safe, affordable place to live where people really care for each other. Because they feel like part of a family, older residents told me that living at H.O.M.E had really improved their quality of life. Although they have their own private spaces, many residents said they felt less lonely because “there’s always someone there if you want some company.” Indeed, the motto for the ‘Good Life Residences’ is ‘Privacy when you want it. Assistance when you need it.’ Some older residents also felt that moving here has improved their physical and mental health. Thom aged 67 for example, said he was, “falling apart at the other place”, but since he’s moved to H.O.M.E he feels much better – he’s not so worried about things and is looking after himself more. 

"I was falling apart at the other place but since I've moved to H.O.M.E I feels much better"

Thom aged 67

Although the Resident Assistants are employees, they didn’t see living at H.O.M.E as ‘just work’ (although they thought their regular tasks were fair for the free accommodation). Some had benefitted from being in a supportive living environment, which had helped with their studies and others felt that it had helped them develop as a person. 19-year-old Tempelle for example, said how at first, she was really shy and wary about talking to so many people, but that living at HOME had improved her confidence. Tempelle has also taken on the advice of residents to try new things such as museums or movies which she says she wouldn’t have done for herself.

For the families that live at H.O.M.E, their young children have the opportunity to create bonds and relationships with people 60-90+ years older than themselves, which is especially important when their grandparents live far away. The parents can watch their children interact with the older residents and see what a big impact these little people have on the older generations. As one parent stated, “I can see the change in residents when my two-year-old twins visit the Good Life residents. Even the residents who never want to smile just light up around the kids. They bring so much joy.” The staff at H.O.M.E also really seemed to love working there and they were very passionate about the houses. One of the Co-ordinators told me how it has given her the opportunity to develop all of her skills because her role is so varied. She loves talking to the older residents and hearing about their experiences.

"I can see the change in residents when my two-year-old twins visit the Good Life residents. Even the residents who never want to smile just light up around the kids. They bring so much joy."

A H.O.M.E parent

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