New Support for Grandparents Raising Kids

Cities start to dedicate housing to these families

By Rich Thomaselli

Cities across the country are starting to recognize the need to offer financial assistance to grandparents raising grandchildren.

The city of Newark, N.J., in March became the latest municipality to do just that, when the City Council approved a $525,000 loan to build a housing development for seniors raising their grandchildren. The Newark Star-Ledger reported the project is believed to be the first of its kind in the city.

Although the newspaper reported that Boston has been at the forefront of the movement — the city used a combination of public money and private donations to build a $4 million housing complex in 1997 for grandparents raising their grandchildren — awareness of the problem has only intensified more recently.

According to AARP, 4.5 million children are being raised in households headed by grandparents, and another 1.5 million in households headed by other relatives. Of those 6 million, AARP research shows that 2.5 million children are without their parents.

And it isn’t just the elderly raising the kids. AARP data showed that the average age of a first-time grandparent is 48, and the average age of grandparents raising children falls into the 50- to 59-year-old group — a time when many older adults are preparing for retirement.

More social challenges have disrupted the traditional grandparent relationship. Substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, incarceration, death, and financial difficulties are all contributing factors to the changing dynamic of grandparents and relatives serving as caregivers.

Deborah Whitley, the director of the National Center on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a research center at the University of Georgia, told the Star-Ledger that one of the biggest challenges for grandparents is finding affordable housing. Fortunately, she said, politicians are reacting.

“Finding accommodations that serve both of these needs at the same time is a trend that is being addressed across the nation,” Whitley said.

In Chicago, the nonprofit Renaissance Collaborative is helping to develop a "senior campus" in the city that will feature three buildings: an affordable apartment building for seniors, an assisted-living building, and an apartment building for grandfamilies.

“Seniors have needs and kids have needs. But they all need a supportive environment,” Patricia Abrams, executive director of Renaissance Collaborative, told the Chicago Tribune.

Similar housing has been built in Los Angeles and New York.

Comments

I live in florida. lost my home of 30 years, husband passed. now have custody of my 4 yr old granddaughter, cannot find a affordable place to live except for ghettos, and such. live on ssi, disability/ widows pension. not much. no child support from her parents. need help to live decently. not asking too much, for what im doing. these 55plus places refuse to let grankids reside, only visit.

raneeh58@gmail.com on 2014-12-10 13:29:48

My husband and I conducted a professional intervention with our daughter. She left treatment after 10 days. We immediately went to court and filed for guardianship of our grandson. His half sister is now with her father who lives close by and can spend time with him. She is demanding them back but does not show up to court hearings. She has shown up to one since she's afraid she's losing the social security from the child's deceased father. We had his hair tested for meth. She had breastfed him for 2 years. His numbers came back 5x the measurable amount. I am so angry that I do not ever want to see my daughter again. It has cost us a tremendous amount of our retirement money to keep these kids out of her grip. Now she's pregnant again with yet another boyfriend. She is in another state now and has a warrant out for her arrest for battery in California. The hits just keep coming. I am grateful to be able to help my grandchildren but I really didn't want to raise a toddler in my 50's.

renee@lagunainkspot.com on 2014-07-20 22:28:25

When will more be built in other cities that's just what i and a lot of us single grandparents need living on fixed income and everything keeps going up, the only help i get from the welfare system are food stamps and they cut them down how are we to feed our self let alone our kids?

ajketter345@gmail.com on 2014-06-19 13:06:12

My husband and I are raising our granddaughter she has been in our home since she was born,we got gaurdinship when she was a month old and got custody 5 years ago. She will be 9 in June Now the dad wants custody he is a felon habital offener dosent have a driver's license can't keep a job 15,000 behind in child support..Our granddaughter doesn't have a close bond with him he was in jail for 2 and half years.But can't quit worring about losing her. She a straight A student.Our world and also hers would be turned up side down if we lost her...........

katjim1234 on 2014-04-01 10:05:07