H.O.M.E Chicago: An Example of Intergenerational Housing

by Joe Gallagher, Architectural Associate

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of the staff members of Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.) located in Chicago.

H.O.M.E. is a non-profit organization with the goal of helping seniors remain independent while keeping them encompassed in their local communities, by offering intergenerational living opportunities as well as in-home housing support services such as a moving assistance program, a shopping bus program as well as home upkeep and repair service.

The organization’s focus is on low-income seniors within the Chicago area who may be facing health issues, lacking social support or are living off supplemental security income as their only income.

A quick review of their website and you’ll see some of the work H.O.M.E accomplished in 2017:

  •  716 repairs made in 100 households, helping the seniors living there stay safe in their own homes.
  •  2,478 trips to the grocery store gave seniors access to healthy food, medicine, and home supplies.
  •  110 people ages 2–92 have formed friendships living side by side within H.O.M.E.’s intergenerational buildings.
  • 53 seniors were able to move into their new homes with the support they needed from H.O.M.E.

They operate under a self-created niche they call “Good Life Senior Residences” which is essentially a niche between Independent Housing and Assisted Living.

Executive Director Bruce Otto and Program Director Tricia Mullin discussed their living models and their thoughts on the benefits of Intergenerational Housing. Like independent living, each resident has his/her own private bedroom. But the community also offers Assisted Living services such as two home-cooked meals prepared and served family-style daily and on-site health check-ups provided by nursing and medical students. What’s unique is that a family-like environment exists as other seniors and families live in the buildings, as well as younger adult resident assistants. The resident assistants receive room and board in exchange for lending a helping hand.

While H.O.M.E offers many daily living services, they are not considered an Assisted Living community as they do not provide the level of assistance as would be found in a typical Assisted Living community. Because of this and their tireless development and fundraising efforts, their communities can provide affordable housing at a much lower cost than that of an Assisted Living community.

H.O.M.E. has been able to provide services for dozens of seniors between their locations of the residences at Nathalie Salmon House (shown above) and the residences at Pat Crowley House (shown below), while also meeting the housing needs of their resident assistants and families.

All the while, they are providing an intergenerational living environment and keeping seniors connected to the outside world while keeping costs down.

This was very interesting to me because as many providers in Wisconsin are aware, our state is facing a “caregiver crisis” as illustrated by the 2016 Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis Report, which was a combined effort by the Wisconsin Health Care Association/ Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living (WHCA/WiCAL), Wisconsin Assisted Living Association (WALA), Leading Age Wisconsin, and the Residential Services Association of Wisconsin.

Across Wisconsin, 1 in 7 caregiving staff positions are unfilled, with nearly 50% of those positions not even having one applicant. And those that did receive applicants had a staggering 70% that weren’t “qualified”.

The term “qualified” is what has become my biggest focal point and I will be highlighting this in my upcoming Intergenerational Housing presentation at the 2018 Spring WALA conference (see below).

I highly encourage everyone to spend some time reviewing the H.O.M.E. website, to learn more about what this organization has done and are continuing to do. There are opportunities to volunteer, donate, and subscribe to future emails that highlight their endeavors.

I would get into this more, but you will have to wait until my presentation taking place March 16th at 10:30 AM!

Learn more about Intergenerational Housing


About Joe Gallagher

Originally from just outside of Philadelphia, PA, Joe graduated from Temple University (Philadelphia) with a master’s degree in architecture. He and his wife relocated to the Madison area in August of 2016, and in June of 2017 he joined JLA Architects as a project assistant. He is currently two exams away from licensure. Senior Living design is something that he has always been passionate about. His goal is to enhance collaboration between designers and medical professionals within the field of aging and memory loss during this extremely imperative time, as senior numbers continue to grow. Joe comments, “Thinking outside of the box is extremely important right now, as senior numbers continue to increase, and workforce numbers remain static and/or decrease.”

Email Joe: jgallagher@jla-ap.com



Top photo: Nathalie Salmon House (by Bill Morton)

Bottom photo: Pat Crowley House (courtesy of H.O.M.E)