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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 14



INTERGENERATIONAL HOUSING IN ALICANTE!!

EXPERIMENTAL EXPERIENCE RECOGNIZED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION

 

In many European countries, a reaction is happily taking place. A reaction facing the only existing pattern for the care of retired, elderly people: residential and unigenerational institutions that imply, too often, the marginalisation of people in the society they leave in, isolating them a unique generation universe in big resting homes, in little homes, housing developments, etc., but always on the border of the society that they belong to.

 

The Municipal Housing Foundation of the City Council of Alicante has built the first intergenerational housing building, with 72 flats for elderly and youth. It is not a residential complex for the elderly, since young people (18-35 years old) and elderly (from 65 years old) will live together in the same building. These public protected houses have 40 square meters and are rented. They are equipped with electrical appliances, air conditioning, bathrooms with all the necessary accessories for the elderly, and common areas for the intergenerational collective’s use and enjoyment. The project was selected by the European Commission as a model project for their contribution to different generations living together. It participates in the philosophy “live and grow old with dignity at home”.  The building has citizen services in the area, such as the Community Health Centre and a Municipal Social Club for the elderly.

 

The selection of the young people who live in the building is made by keeping in mid their social profile. They have to spend a few hours a week in activities with the elderly. This daily contact is important because it makes it easy to learn. Everyone learns from everyone. It works like the communicating cups: the experience and calm meditation of the elderly are transmitted to the youth. The young people cooperate with the elderly in all those tasks that, because of lack of strength, they cannot do or constitute high risk tasks for the elderly. There are daily exchanges, real experiences, and mutual enrichment.

 

The young people should have a social vocation and commit, by contract, to dedicate four hours a week to community service and speed up the cultural and leisure activities with a program such as theatre, television, reading, games, technology workshops, growing gardens, gardening, etc. Living together takes place by way of a social contract that is a complement to the renting contract, and contemplates a feature called “the good neighbour”. Every year, every young tenant is in charge of four elderly. They are their emergency voice before the social workers in case there is a problem or anomaly in the daily routine. It is a task of watching and guiding. It is not to be thought as a responsibility.

 

A social program has been defined for the intergenerational housing building, where all participate and where there is space for all the integrants in the building, including shared services there located. Initially, it has a proposal of five parts or projects that must be developed by the Social Department of the Foundation with the collaboration and participation from the neighbours.  The projects defined so far are: Down to earth, From culture to information, The Party, Technology in your hands, and The good neighbour.  The projects have evaluation check-ups, during the second month of the activities, which serve to make the necessary adjustments before dysfunctions can arise. We give our deepest congratulations to the Municipal Housing Foundation of the City Council of Alicante for this new and interesting project.

José Roberto López Martínez