Housing insecurity: more than a roof

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“Having a roof over your head” is certainly important when persons think about housing insecurity! I am very aware that some people in our county have great anxiety because they don’t have that roof — unless it’s a car roof or the roof belongs to a friend or family member. One homeless person in our area is one too many!

But housing insecurities don’t end once persons have a house or apartment to call their own. Worrying about enough monthly income to stay under that roof certainly qualifies as an insecurity.

Older adults — well, other persons too — need to consider home safety as a potential insecurity. And what about health care costs and food costs? They too can be sources of anxiety and insecurity in our homes.

One of the topics we will be exploring together on April 9 at the next Geezer Forum will be housing insecurity. Health care and Area Agency on Aging will also be addressed in this three-prong effort at next Tuesday’s Geezer Forum.

Our guest resources at the Forum will come from different, but complementary, perspectives. Dan English is the Executive Director of Area Agency on Aging. Located in Coeur d’Alene, AAA provides a wide variety of services for older adults.

Many of you are familiar with those services because you may use them, or know friends or family members who do or could. Dan will give us a good overview of those services. Additionally, he will address the housing insecurities he has knowledge of in his AAA role and also as a member of the Coeur d’Alene City Council

Rob Orth is a Realtor in Sandpoint and Kootenai County who sees housing insecurity as more than simply having a roof and four walls to call a home. Before moving to the Rathdrum area, Rob invested his energy into non-profit work serving older adults through in-home services outreach.

Plus he was a consultant for what he calls “collaborative senior housing opportunities”. One housing alternative he will introduce to us is “Co- housing.” The cohousing model is coming into its own across the United States as an living alternative for adults of all ages.

Senior cohousing is a type of living community that combines private homes with clustered living spaces. This model is not a traditional retirement community, but involves private homes clustered so that persons have social connection with other persons plus home privacy.

To date, I’m unaware of any cohousing projects for older adults in Idaho. But getting acquainted with this model’s potential through Rob’s awareness and experience with it just might spark some notions of how such a housing alternative might work in Bonner County. Who knows?

If you would like to learn more about the Senior Cohousing model, you can connect with the website for The Cohousing Association of the United States at www.cohousing.org/aging.

There will be other insights about housing insecurity from Rob and Dan at the Geezer Forum, some of which were mentioned earlier. Plus, Dan will share his particular focus on Area Agency on Agency’s special services to old adults.

We hope you will join us next Tuesday’s Geezer Forum, April 9, 2:30-4 p.m., at the Columbia Bank’s Community Room.

Paul Graves, M.Div., is Lead Geezer-in-Training for Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on issues of aging. Contact Paul at 208-610-4971 or elderadvocates@nctv.com.

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