fairfax intergenerational: housing for seniors raising children

Joanie Nelson and her granddaughter Jayda live in the new Fairfax Intergenerational Housing development on Cedar Avenue between E. 80th and 83rd streets. Eight years back, Joanie's daughter was struck and killed by a drunk driver in a car accident, leaving Joanie to raise her granddaughter. It's hard to raise a grandchild as a senior, of course, yet this challenge is made easier by the new housing development, which offers social workers, a computer lab and other support services that are aimed at helping grandparents who are raising grandkids.

“My granddaughter and I are thrilled with our new home at Fairfax Intergenerational," Nelson said in a press release. "I’m excited that the school and church are very close, and we have access to a computer center and after-school activities."

There are 2.4 million grandparents raising 4.5 million kids in the U.S. Fairfax Intergenerational Housing, now named Griot Village, is the first project of its kind in Ohio and one of only seven in the country. It offers an affordable, sustainable and supportive environment for seniors 55 and older who are raising children.

Griot Village was designed in accordance with Enterprise Green Community standards. The development consists of 40 new townhomes with a shared courtyard that promotes a sense of community. A Supportive Services Coordinator provides onsite services to residents. There are eight buildings, each of which has five housing units. Each unit offers homework stations and play areas, and there's an onsite community center. The new residents are in close proximity to a commercial and retail development, walking distance to University Circle, and a short distance from several major medical centers and local schools.

"This development allows grandparents to be in an environment where they can be free with fact that they’re raising a child," says Jeffery Patterson, CEO of CMHA. "You may have seniors who live in one of our senior buildings and are taking on that role, but our senior buildings were not built for that purpose. Here, there’s play equipment on the property. There's a community center where there are educational opportunities. It's in an area that provides good development opportunities for youth and seniors. We can help them to be successful."

The total project investment amount was $12 million, which was funded primarily by Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The development is a partnership between CMHA and Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation.

Read more articles by Lee Chilcote.

Lee Chilcote is founder and editor of The Land. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks The Shape of Home and How to Live in Ruins. His writing has been published by Vanity Fair, Next City, Belt and many literary journals as well as in The Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook, The Cleveland Anthology and A Race Anthology: Dispatches and Artifacts from a Segregated City. He is a founder and former executive director of Literary Cleveland. He lives in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland with his family.