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Grandfamilies: Housing
Although the lack of affordable housing is an issue for many Americans, grandfamilies can encounter several unique barriers:
  • Grandparents and other relative caregivers often take on full time care for children with little or no warning time to plan for appropriate housing.
  • They may live in small apartments that are unsuitable for children and that fail to meet occupancy requirements. 
  • They may qualify for government subsidized housing but cannot secure an appropriately sized apartment because they lack a legal relationship with the children.
  • Caregivers in senior housing may be subject to eviction if children need to move in with them.
  • Presence of additional children may violate private lease agreements and/or occupancy standards.
  • After taking on the extra expense of raising children, grandfamily caregivers may no longer be able to afford their existing housing.
U.S. Census Bureau data reflect these challenges.
  • More than 1 in 4 grandparent caregivers live in overcrowded conditions.
  • More than 1 in 6 pay over half their income on rent.
  • Sixty percent of qualifying renters do not receive housing subsidies.
Laws and Programs Responding to these Challenges
Starting in 1998, jurisdictions around the country began housing programs specifically for grandfamilies with support services on-site. Two of the most successful are:

Grandparent’s House in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In November 2004, a local nonprofit -- the Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation -- opened Grandparent’s House. Purchased and renovated with a mixture of private and public funds, the facility has rent subsidies for qualifying tenants. Grandparent’s House consists of three two-story buildings -- each with 10 units of two-bedroom, one-bath apartments.

Grandparents of any age are allowed and are not required to obtain a legal relationship to the grandchildren. Other caregivers, such as aunts or uncles, may lease an apartment, but grandparents have first priority. The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Information Center is located on-site. Services are provided at the House.

GrandParent Apartments in South Bronx, New York
Presbyterian Senior Services and West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing partnered to open GrandParent Apartments in May 2005. The nation’s first new construction project for these families has 50 apartments (40 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom) in a six-story, 66,470 square-foot building. Like Grandparent’s House, the facility used a complicated mixture of funding sources that enable rent subsidies for qualifying tenants. The building features benefit both the young and old. They include:
  • Laundry rooms on each floor
  • Handrails in the bathrooms and hallways
  • Shower thermostats to keep the water from getting too hot
  • On-site services such as case management, counseling, children’s and youth activities, support groups, after-school education, and tutoring 
  • Twenty-four hour front door security with an emergency bell/buzzer system in each unit
  • Outdoor green space
LEGACY
Generations United has worked to create additional affordable housing opportunities for grandfamilies throughout the country. We educated Congress about the need for a law specifically addressing grandfamilies’ unique housing challenges and led the effort to pass the LEGACY Act of 2003 - Living Equitably: Grandparents Aiding Children and Youth.

Kinship Navigator Programs

Kinship navigator programs provide information, referral, and follow-up services to grandparents and other relatives raising children to link them to the benefits and services that they or the children need. Navigators help relatives’ access programs, including housing services. A list of known navigators can be found here.
If you need additional information and support, visit the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center or connect with support groups in your area.

Additional Resources:
The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center
Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: An Action Agenda to Create Affordable Housing Opportunities (PDF)
Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: The Second Intergenerational Action Agenda (PDF)
Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: Housing Needs and Challenges fact sheet (PDF)
The National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2012 Advocates’ Guide to Housing & Community Development Policy  (PDF)
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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