Villages, Hubs and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities
December 19, 2017 9:31 AM   Subscribe

As life expectancies increase around the world, more people think about how to age in place, or stay on their own as they grow older. One such organization that supports communities of people who want to live on their own with support is the Village to Village Network, and NPR recently looked at the growing Village Movement: How The 'Village Movement' Is Being Adapted In Rural Areas | Chicago Neighborhoods Are Trying To Adapt The 'Village Movement' Structure

Official Villages are mostly in the US, including Fairbanks, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawai'i, but there's also an associated group in Sydney, which goes by Waverton Hub, which sounds like a related but different organization. For instance, while you can read a cursory overview of the Village Model online, Waverton Hub shares the Hub manual online.

US News' Money section had an article on Villages in 2015, and included nine tips for forming a village in your community, while AARP has had articles on Villages a few times in past years.

If you're looking for information beyond the Village or Hub structure, AARP also produced a 36 page PDF on Aging in Place: A Toolkit for Local Governments. If you're looking for more information from the perspective of one who is looking to age in place, Senior Resource (dot com) has an extensive page on Aging in Place, including a section on Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs). And then there's Aging in Place (dot org), from the National Aging in Place Council, which has a collection of local chapters around the U.S.
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
If you really want to dig into Village structure, here's a 53 page "Village 101 toolkit" PDF from Village Above the Clouds in Woodland Park, Colorado.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:33 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thanks for posting! Do you mean life expectancies?
posted by olopua at 9:53 AM on December 19, 2017

Yes, yes I do. (Just another reminder to myself to not rush while posting.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:03 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by LobsterMitten at 10:05 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks! And done before the edit window closed on my prior comment, you're fast!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2017

Thanks! This is relevant to my interests.
posted by greermahoney at 10:10 AM on December 19, 2017

MA's policy isn't as on point as this, but it's in the right direction: to get Commonwealth support, retirement homes have to be walking distance to a town center with businesses and bus lines.
posted by ocschwar at 10:24 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I heard the NPR piece on this in Chicago and thought in passing that it was a good idea - but shucks, I don't live in chicago.

but I just checked the main map and discovered not only is there a Village in New York City - it is in my damn neighborhood. I actually may look into some low-key volunteer work now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on December 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Are villages different from co-housing?
posted by yoga at 10:52 AM on December 19, 2017

I'm in my sixties and plan to retire in a couple of years. I work at a small state university campus that is directly adjacent to a large Sun City gated retirement community. Some of our staff members live there. I've been to people's houses there a few times over the 9 years that I've worked here. It does not appeal to me at all, the houses all look alike, the people are mostly white, and they're all old. Instead I live in a vibrant multicultural multi-generational neighborhood in a city 40 minutes away. I definitely hope to "age in place".

One of my neighbors died on Thanksgiving, a few days after his 98th birthday. He spent his last week in a residential hospice but up until then he was aging very gracefully in place with his wife. At the insistence of their grown kids they've had a housekeeper/home health aide who comes for a few hours three times a week. One of their daughters has now moved in with her mom. The mom at 94 still drives, cooks, reads, and posts on Facebook. She's my role model.

Over the last few years we've helped these neighbors out many times with little things like moving furniture, doing minor repairs, etc. They've tried to pay us but we keep insisting that we do it because it's neighborly and we hope there will be younger people around when we get rickety to do things like this for us.

I'm not sure I would want to have to plan for that kind of neighborliness; I'm not sure I want to look for a formal structure to ensure such neighborliness.
posted by mareli at 10:54 AM on December 19, 2017 [7 favorites]

Are villages different from co-housing?

The "village" idea is more like a neighborhood/community service that arranges for volunteers to be the support system for elderly residents who want to stay put in their own home. Kind of like how my Dad made a deal with a couple of my grandfather's neighbors to take turns being the on-call check-in people during the day while he was at work, and then my father would visit him when he got off work and take over.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sounds like something I'd be interested down the road. I hate the idea of ending my years in some managed-care facility. Seen 'em. Don't wanna be in one.

It also sounds like something ripe for someone to come along and "disrupt" and monetize.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:24 AM on December 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thorzdad: It also sounds like something ripe for someone to come along and "disrupt" and monetize.

There's a reason "Village to Village Network" doesn't generally give out their "Village 101 toolkit" - they ask that you "please consider joining Village to Village Network" and link you to their membership tiers, and the "basic" VTV Member annual cost is $425 for a Village, or $100 for a lone individual.

So it's already monetized, where they're selling information and a support system, but I think local governments can buy in, if they want.

In the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago, NPR mentioned that they're using the Village system/structure (unclear, and it seems they're not included on the Village Map). I'm not sure if it's something that's grown from Chicago's regional senior centers or some other senior services/Area Agency on Aging (AAA) program, which likely receives State and Federal funding for related services.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fair housing laws provide for a complex with 80% of its residents over 55, to become officially age restricted. Another classification for restricted age is for 100% of residents to be above the age of 62, but this is rare in an evolving NORC.

For many years the law required an age restricted community to offer significant amenities and services if it was age restricted. That is no longer the case
(From the Senior Resource (dot com) link.) It seems like a terrible idea to me. Much less chance for informal mutual support like mareli describes, and it would kill a NORC because after a few years all the newcomers would have to be people who had moved in when old, not people aging in place. What's the Fair Housing justification, does anyone know?
posted by clew at 12:16 PM on December 19, 2017

There's a small apartment building in my neighborhood. The (older) landlady lives in one of the units. After some bad experiences with younger tenants she was talking about getting her building officially age restricted. Fortunately the problem tenants left, and the new ones, who are also two generations younger, seem to be less troublesome, so she has stopped saying that.

Apart from those apartments, my neighborhood is turning into a NORC, all on its own, and I for one am glad to have these younger folks.
posted by elizilla at 12:52 PM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Looks like the kicker with age-restriction is that it's the only way to legally descriminate against families with children -- there used to be a requirement to add facilities specifically for the old, but that's gone.
posted by clew at 1:38 PM on December 19, 2017

People with “informal support” are a lucky rarity. Far better to plan for that, with intention.
posted by Miko at 8:31 PM on December 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Be warned that elderly people will be quizzed by the paramedics and any wrong answer will result in forcible removal from home. I know this subject isn't what this thread is about, but it's so damn important, I felt compelled to mention it.
posted by Beholder at 1:14 AM on December 20, 2017

(Disclaimer: Gen-X perspective)

Actually, buildings with formal age-restrictions may work to my advantage eventually - because by the time I get to retirement age, all the people who are currently occupying all the age-restricted housing will have died off, and my own generation is much smaller and will be spoiled for choice.

I mean, it really feels ghoulish to realize that the only way I have of being financially stable is for people to actually die, but that's kind of looking like that's the way it is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

"Looks like the kicker with age-restriction is that it's the only way to legally descriminate against families with children -- there used to be a requirement to add facilities specifically for the old, but that's gone."

So the legislative history is, "age and family status" was added to the Fair Housing Act in 1988; at that time, Congress wrote in an exemption to the "age and family status" part of the law for senior housing, writing it as if it mostly applied to full-service nursing homes (that provided extensive facilities) and without due attention to the existing senior housing market, which already included "active living" communities and "aging in place" communities with various levels of services and "limited support" communities and so on, as well as more traditional nursing homes. Retirement communities started getting sued and shutting down, causing a senior housing crisis. So in 1995, Congress passed the Housing for Older Persons Act, which basically said you can run your senior housing community any way you like as long as you meet this very minimal definition and follow certain rules relating to it, and returned stability and diversity to the senior housing market. There's been no notable fall-off in full-service facilities since the "services" provision was repealed; the original law was never intended to close down senior communities, it was just carelessly written.

Anyway, it's not really an area where a major problem exists (in most places -- I'm sure there are some where a terrible housing crisis is exacerbated by jerkish senior housing communities); when senior communities can no longer fill themselves with enough seniors, they either shut down or stop being age-restricted. (My parents actually live in a townhouse community that was built as a senior living neighborhood, that for a long time was, and then demand dropped and the HOA voted to get rid of age restrictions. It's still mostly older people who like having a "house" rather than an apartment but don't want to deal with yard work, but there are some kids and some single young adults and so on, and a lot more couples in later middle age (but not seniors) whose kids have left home and who wanted to downsize and not have a yard.)

My last neighborhood was anchored by an elementary school and a retirement facility (which had a range from independent bungalows to independent apartments to supported living apartments to full-servicing nursing home to a "memory care" wing for people with serious dementia), and it was nice! There were a lot of older people in the neighborhood, who lived at the retirement facility, walking dogs or volunteering at the school or stopping to chat when we were out in the yard, who were able to stay in the neighborhood AND have their age-related needs met AND have a community of people their own age to live with. And my new neighborhood is ALSO anchored by a retirement home, right next to the playground, and also features many older people on walks and enjoying the park and admiring the kids. I wholly support aging in place, but it's also nice to have senior communities available for people who don't want to fuss with a house any more or who want more socializing with people their own age, especially if they've been widowed.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:29 PM on December 20, 2017

it's not really an area where a major problem exists (in most places

Age-restriction is a method of not paying school taxes. Probably mostly in Florida and Arizona? but rural towns near me in the PNW are more-than-doubling in size with retirement communities, and the "schools or low taxes" fights are right behind the "water for ag or golf" fights.
posted by clew at 2:00 PM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

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