Washington, DC — Nov. 13, 2019 — Across the United States, more than 2.65 million children live in grandfamilies — families in which grandparents, other adult family members or close family friends are raising children – with no parents in the home. Frequently, these families come together at a moment’s notice. In an instant the home of the new grandfamily is inadequate for their suddenly expanded household.
A new report from Generations United, A Place to Call Home: Building Affordable Housing for Grandfamilies, found less than one in three eligible grandfamilies receive housing assistance and details the housing challenges these families face.
“Caregivers may lose their homes when they step up to raise children,” said Ana Beltran, special advisor to Generations United’s National Center on Grandfamilies and the report’s author. “They may be renting through private lease agreements that prohibit children from living in their apartments. Evictions are common and, as with one of our GRAND Voice caregiver advocates, can even happen in a snowstorm during the holidays.”
The barriers to receiving housing assistance noted in the report include housing providers not recognizing grandfamilies as “families” making them ineligible for assistance, and many child welfare systems’ frequent failure to license relatives as foster parents so they can receive adequate financial assistance or help accessing housing.
In response to these challenges, there are at least 19 specialized grandfamilies housing programs across the US with the potential for nationwide expansion. These programs share common features including on-site services for families, special design features for both caregivers and children, and a community of peers that can support one another.
“These programs are sometimes stand-alone developments of just grandfamilies like PSS/WSF Grandparent Family Apartments in the South Bronx, New York and Grandparent’s House in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “Others, like Plaza West in Washington DC, share a site with housing that serves more than one population.”
The report highlights these and other existing housing solutions and recommendations to help support grandfamilies including:
- Urge the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Interior and the Treasury to provide clear written guidance to remove barriers to local housing assistance for grandfamilies.
- Create a comprehensive toolkit for developing grandfamilies housing to support additional program development.
- Address unnecessary housing barriers for relatives to become licensed foster parents.
- Fund and establish a National Grandfamilies Technical Assistance Center.
- Ensure that kinship navigators around the country are partnering with local housing actors and specialized grandfamily-housing.
- Support tribes in addressing their housing challenges.
Generations United experts available for comment include:
- Donna Butts, executive director
- Jaia Peterson Lent, deputy executive director
- Ana Beltran, special advisor, National Center on Grandfamilies (Ms. Beltran can also do interviews in Spanish)
About Generations United:
For more than three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged. The National Center on Grandfamilies is a critical part of Generations United’s mission and strives to enact policies and promote programs that support relative caregivers and the children they raise. www.gu.org