H.O.M.E. was well represented at last week’s ASA “Aging in America” Conference, with Bruce Otto and Amber Martin from the staff, and Kate Krajci, Michelle Newman and myself from the Board amongst the crowd of about 3,000 attendees.
I attended the ASA Conference, as I have for the past six years: in 2013, 2015 and 2017 in Chicago, in 2012 and 2016 in Washington DC, and in 2014 in San Diego. (As both an ASA member and an avid Chicago Blackhawks hockey fan, I see a strong correlation between Chicago ASA Conference years and Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship years – I hope this correlation continues through this June!)
I came to the aging network with my background in city and community planning, so I initially gravitated to ASA conference sessions that focused on issues such as housing, transportation, and other physical environment-related topics. At my first few ASA Conferences, sessions on such topics were grouped together within a subject track that did not even include the word “community” and these sessions were sparsely attended.
As of my first ASA Conference in 2012, Portland, Oregon and New York City, New York had only recently become the first cities in the United States to have been accepted for membership in the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, and the now-overused phrase “age-friendly” was barely heard at ASA Conferences.
With the growth of interest in aging-in-community – for a variety of reasons – the number of ASA Conference tracks on aging-in-community has risen steadily since 2012. In 2013, a subject track entitled “Housing and Community” was introduced, and by 2015, the track was entitled “Aging in Community” and it contained over 150 different conference sessions.
This growth in interest in aging-in-community culminated in the need to shut off registration (due to room capacity) at 250 registrants for this year’s new and jointly sponsored ASA/American Planning Association Summit on Livable Communities. The discussion of aging-in-community had grown from a whisper into a conversation, and from a conversation into a roar over the past six ASA Conferences.
Which brings me to H.O.M.E. I have only been a member of the H.O.M.E. Board of Directors for just over one year, but since I have this H.O.M.E. relationship, at this year’s ASA Conference I began focusing some of my attention on sessions dealing with intergenerational issues, including attending the informal “Intergenerational Peer Group” meeting at which individuals and the organizations they represent introduce themselves to one another, network, and discuss shared issues.
While this year was the first ASA Conference at which I participated in the Intergenerational Peer Group meeting, it was clear from the session’s conveners that the number of participants this year was two or three times what it had been in recent years. There were easily 30+ individuals sitting around the circle, including Bruce and me.
It was quite notable to me that most Intergenerational Peer Group participants introduced themselves as being from organizations and having backgrounds that focused on intergenerational programmatic or policy aspects. In fact, Bruce was the only participant who stated that his involvement with intergenerational matters came from managing actual built intergenerational housing.
While other participants at the Intergenerational Peer Group expressed keen interest in intergenerational housing, H.O.M.E. is one of the very few organizations in the United States with a real story to tell about intergenerational housing (and one of the only ones with a story that goes back 35 years).
H.O.M.E.’s new 5-year Strategic Plan, adopted in 2016, includes five broad inward-facing and outward-facing strategic goals. The inward-facing goals focus on traditional issues of staff and Board development, and financial sustainability. But interestingly enough, the Strategic Plan’s two key outward-facing goals address expanding its intergenerational housing portfolio into new underserved Chicago neighborhoods, and serving as a national knowledge leader in intergenerational housing.
I see increasing interest at ASA Conferences in all things intergenerational, and a growing interest to link intergenerational housing with the broader aging-in-community/livable communities for all ages movement.
Simply stated: interest in intergenerational issues in general -- and intergenerational housing in particular -- is clearly on the rise, and H.O.M.E. is well-positioned to be an experienced national leader in this growing movement.
H.O.M.E. has adopted the right Strategic Plan at the exact right time, and this makes it a very good time for all of us to be H.O.M.E. supporters.
We invite you to come hear more about H.O.M.E.'s plans for the future at our upcoming 35th Anniversary Celebration Dinner.