Growing up in the Bay Area, I've noticed fewer seniors in San Francisco. Not long ago, an older generation elegantly graced the shops and streets of the Marina, North Beach, and Mission districts. Where are they now?
Well, I ran into some of them last month at a Halloween party hosted by NEXT Village San Francisco, an innovative organization that helps its members live independent lifestyles as they age. I had no idea what to expect going into this party. I thought that I'd arrive early and leave early. Instead, I danced, schmoozed, and noshed, doing my best to keep up with this vibrant group of spirited souls, including Elvis. However, along with enjoying the festivities, I was struck by how quickly the fabric of society is changing and how rare it was to see people from different generations interacting. I attribute this largely to the city's high cost of living.
The nation's housing crisis is directly impacting an entire generation in our society -- especially here in San Francisco. Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies found that in the next 10 years, households already struggling with high rents will increase 42 percent among senior households. I'm left to wonder where my generation -- Generation X -- will end up.
Finding creative solutions to this problem is critical. It's time we seriously look at alternative housing solutions that are visionary and enticing for seniors of all ages.
I really like the concept and unique approach of the NEXT Village model. Their network of volunteers provides a great solution to seniors who want to stay in their own homes.
But what about those who cannot afford to remain in their homes? It's time to start sharing resources and building online communities that provide affordable and perhaps even disruptive alternatives to address the limited choices available today. Just as the name of Next Village implies, it'll take a village and then some to solve the monumental housing crisis.
Meanwhile, seeing Elvis in the flesh was a total high. But it still begs the question: Where will those of us who don't live in Graceland go?