Do you remember “The Golden Girls” television series? It ran from 1985 to 1992 and starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty. The story line was about four single women sharing a house, two of them a mother and daughter.
It was a popular TV series, and I still watch the re-runs when they’re on. I’m sure most viewers did not think that this living arrangement would turn out to be a necessity for many seniors in the 21st century. The following examples feature women, but the same concept would also apply to men.
A few weeks ago, the PBS News Hour on channel 11 had a segment about three single women living in Pittsburgh, each of whom had been living on her own and struggling with the costs. They decided to pool their resources. They each sold their home, and the three purchased one they now share. The cost per person is a fraction of what each had been paying on her own.
The accommodations are nice, too. They each have a separate living area and share the common areas. Knowing that circumstances might come up that could disrupt the harmony of their living arrangement, they had an attorney draw up a legal document that covers just about any situation that could occur.
They have written a book about their experience, “My House, Our House.” Their website, www.myhouseourhouse.com, has a wealth of information and resources for anyone interested in learning more about cooperative housing.
I also found Golden Girls Homes Inc. The Minnesota-based organization was incorporated in 2001 as a nonprofit to foster creative housing alternatives for women.
They are developing a database where active, mature homeowners who are looking for housemates can find the perfect match. The database will allow homeowners to register their information and make their home available to others looking for a shared housing arrangement. The database expects to provide information for every state, and there are plans to expand to international locations.
The group offers a workshop, “How to Start a Golden Girls Home,” and has periodic gatherings. Membership is $25 a year and entitles participants to list their houses or look for housing.
Affordable senior housing is a serious problem in Naperville. There is no easy fix, and it will take some painful discussion and probably a lot of compromise to arrive at a solution.
While many of our seniors do not have to be concerned about living costs, a large segment of Naperville’s senior population is dealing with the lack of affordable housing.
Naperville is supposed to be one of the best places to retire, but if you don’t have money, it will be a challenge. The time to look at alternatives is now.
Cooperative housing could be a partial solution. I’ve mentioned it to several people who thought it had possibilities. What do you think? Email your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Courney has lived in Naperville since 1970. Contact her at email@example.com.