The GrandFamilies House: A Home for Parenting Grandparents and Their Grandchildren
The first of its kind in the nation, the GrandFamilies House is a housing facility in Boston targeted at low-income grandparents who are their grandchildren's primary caregivers.
For a variety of reasons, the number of children being raised by grandparents has been rising dramatically in recent decades, yet there has been little in terms of public assistance specifically for low-income people in this situation. To address this problem, three organizations in the Boston area (Boston Aging Concerns-Young and Old United, the Women's Institute for Housing and Economic Development, and the YWCA) banded together.
After several years' planning and extensive renovations, an old nursing
home was transformed into a 27-unit facility, designed with the needs of older people and children in mind. For example, there are grab-bars in the bathrooms and safety covers on the electrical outlets. A playground in the rear is situated within easy view of caregivers. A live-in manager is available for emergencies and other needs. A Resident Services Coordinator organizes meetings, transportation, and other services.
A number of services are offered in the basement of the building administered by the Boston YWCA, ranging from a preschool and after-school care for the children, to exercise and parenting classes for the grandparents. Microsoft donated equipment and volunteers for a computer lab. A van funded by the Mellon Trust
is available for trips and errands.
A key to the successful launch was a new program of special section 8 rental vouchers created by both the State of Massachusetts and the city of Boston just for grandparents raising grandchildren. The rent subsidies also allow other parenting grandparents to live in affordable housing in the nearby community. Pro-bono attorneys helped put together other public and private financing for the project, which included low-income housing tax credits for lenders.
The GrandFamilies House has drawn media attention, and has received inquiries and visits from social organizations from various parts of the country. "Grandfamilies is definitely a model for other communities to emulate," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino when the project opened in the fall of 1998.
For more information, contact:
Janet Van Zandt
Boston Aging Concerns-Young and Old United
67 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: 617-266-2257, ext. 223
Children's Bureau Express Volume 2, Number 2