At AHEPA Senior Living, we strive to be pillars of our communities, inspired by the ethos of our Greek American founders of civic responsibility, humanitarianism, and philanthropy. Led by the desire to leave our communities better than we found them, we hope our team of professionals embodies these Hellenic ideals and that these ideals carry over to residents. This personification of ideals is what we saw this holiday season at several of our communities.
A Community Inspired to Give Back
In Daytona Beach, Florida, at our AHEPA 410 Senior Apartments community, residents recently asked the management team about donating toys to children through a Toys for Tots drive hosted by the Daytona Beach Fire Department. While the request seemed normal to Julie Carpenter, the AHEPA 410 Senior Apartments property manager, the participation caught her a bit by surprise.
“We collected 64 new unwrapped toys that we dropped off to the Daytona Beach Fire Department,” said Carpenter. “Many of our residents were eager to participate. For them, the thought of putting smiles on children’s faces was very gratifying. Several took pictures of the gifts under the tree to share with their loved ones.”
We also saw a similar toy drive carried out by residents at Penelope 54 Senior Apartments in Houston for a collection organized by the Houston Police Department.
However, the exciting part of the story is how these holiday toy drives that link generations seem to reflect a growing trend in the United States–a rise in multigenerational housing. These households cite several benefits of living together, including strengthened relationships among family members, more accessible family care, improved finances, and positive impacts on personal mental health. Perhaps the alignment of the “holiday spirit” or simply the desire to care for others ties these two concepts together.
The Steady Rise of Multigenerational Households
The COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis are recent contributing factors for the rise in children in high poverty or rural areas living with their grandparents. A June 2022 report issued by a congressional committee responsible for appropriating funding for affordable elderly housing cited these factors. However, according to research from the Pew Research Center, there has been a steady rise in multigenerational housing since the 1970s, with a rate of 18% in 2021. All told, 23% of grandparents support grandchildren, according to a stat provided by the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Aging, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), at a December 2022 hearing.
While there are currently no AHEPA Senior Living facilities that provide multigenerational housing, the trend is gaining attention. It has the interest of the Senate Committee on Aging. In 2019, the then-heads of the committee, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), proposed a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act to allow further funding to multigenerational families. Today, we are starting to see Congress appropriate funding to expand the supply of affordable intergenerational units—$25 million in the latest funding bill.
Regardless of whether we can be involved directly, our ethos aligns with those ideals being lived by intergenerational housing. At the core, we want to ensure that seniors and our communities are served and thriving. So, we want to thank again the residents in Daytona Beach and Houston who took it upon themselves to help make the holidays brighter for the underserved children in their communities.