Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

ENTERPRISE HOUSING: A Vital Economic Option for Caregivers

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

ENTERPRISE HOUSING: A Vital Economic Option for Caregivers

Article excerpt

The goal of this article is to present ideas that may assist individuals and communities to better understand and plan for the needs of caregivers and their need for affordable and appropriate housing. The need for caregivers is widespread. Every locale wants and needs caregivers. However, some cities in the United States are less affordable than others due to the cost of housing and other expenses related to providing caregiving services. Community action is needed that will encourage elected officials, city planners, architects, developers and contractors to work collaboratively to provide housing options that promote and support home based businesses including care giving. With an ever increasing and long-living aged population, it behooves all of us to carefully examine these issues. We must work with the broad spectrum of the community to better plan the inter-relationships of the social issues, housing and careers of those who can assist all of us in our declining years. After all, most of us will depend on a caregiver one day.

Introduction

I grew up in San Francisco in the mid-1950s. This was a time where the character of many of the neighborhoods was living above the store. It was commonplace for multi-generational families to have the family business and the family housed in a single (affordable) structure. Children played in the shop or in the kitchen. Aging parents cared for young children and were cared for by their adult children. Communication technology was simple. No cell phones or pagers, we just shouted out the window or down the stairs for immediate results. It was not perfect but based on the care giving options of the time, the available live-work options made economic sense. A generation of newcomers to this country built communities and equity through home-based businesses. In San Francisco, the number of home-based businesses remains substantial in spite of many obstacles. In 2004, nearly 30,000 San Franciscans worked primarily at home (US Census Bureau, 2004). It is not known how many of these entrepreneurs were also caregivers, but anecdotal information tells me that there is significant overlap.

The overlap I personally observe is most often with immediate relatives, parents, siblings and in-laws. With today's extended families, however, the relationships become more complex. Extended can describe physical distance as well as relationships. The old style of caregiving (described above) therefore is not always possible. My recent experiences in San Francisco has alerted me to the growing reality that home-based care giving for many individuals will be provided by a proximate caregiver who may have no familial relation to the individual(s) he/she is assisting. The need for housing that is affordable and appropriate to community and home-based caregiving for these aging individuals is critical.

New Housing Options Should Support Caregivers

Caregiving is an important provisioning activity. A 2003 study shows that 20 per cent of U.S. households provided care to relatives and friends. Of this population 70 per cent lived in the home or nearby (National Alliance for Caregiving et al, 2004). Although many are able to volunteer their time, others will need to merge their personal needs with their professional need for employment. Like many important careers (teachers, artists, to name a few), compensation levels often do not match the housing costs in many localities. Couple this dilemma with the environmental and quality of life issues growing out of commuting, and you see the need to develop housing options for caregivers that are both affordable and appropriate to the vocation. The University of San Francisco, with local civic and professional housing advocates, has launched a research effort to define some optimal housing options for work at home professionals including caregivers. The Enterprise Housing initiative at the University of San Francisco (USF), in partnership with Asian Neighborhood Design (AND), has identified many benefits that flow to caregiver, client and community when both parties are proximate. …

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