NYU Silver-Generations United Intergenerational Housing Project Named Finalist in Longevity Design Competition

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I² Housing, an intergenerational interdependence initiative developed by a team from NYU Silver School of Social Work and the nonprofit Generations United, is one of 8 finalists chosen from among 97 submissions representing 59 universities in 24 countries for the Stanford Center on Longevity’s 2018-2019 Longevity Design Challenge.

Led by NYU Silver Assistant Professor Ernest Gonzales with PhD student Cliff Whetung, MSW/MPH student Rachel Kruchten, and Generations United Executive Director Donna Butts, i² Housing builds on traditional home sharing to address the national challenges of rising student debt, social isolation, declining health, and affordable housing among college students and older adults.

“There are individual and societal advantages to having people from across generations live together, from meeting financial and social needs at one end of the spectrum to debunking harmful stereotypes and expanding affordable housing solutions in NYC,” Dr. Gonzales said. “i² insinuates an exponential effect on housing security, social networking, and social capital all through an intergenerational home share program.“

The initiative will match graduate students from NYU Silver and other schools of social work with older adults in three different co-living models. Two of the models place a student in an extra room in an older adult’s home, either for low to no rent in exchange for agreed upon tasks (e.g. grocery shopping, sharing a meal, yard work) or for a below-market rent with no required exchange of services. In the third model, a student will provide a certain number of hours of services to an agreed upon number of older adults who live in the same apartment building, neighboring buildings, or in senior housing in exchange for service hours and/or reduction in housing costs associated with student loan debt.

“While home sharing is not a new concept,” Dr. Gonzales said, “there has not been a rigorous evaluation of intergenerational home sharing or an analysis of multiple co-living models requiring different levels of engagement to determine if they are feasible, desirable and achieve the stated outcomes. Our partnership with Generations United, which has strong leadership, national relationships, and credibility in the field, makes this initiative possible to scale nationally.”

For being a finalist in Longevity Design Challenge, the i² Housing team was awarded $1,000 and a national mentor to further refine their project design and travel costs to Palo Alto, California for the competition finals on April 16th.They will present their design to companies and investors and compete for a $10,000 first prize.