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Theoretical Orientations to Intergenerational Home Sharing: Implications for Direct Social Work Practice on Addressing Student Debt and Aging-in-Community


Population aging presents many challenges that will require innovative solutions. Emerging challenges include low levels of affordable housing that jeopardize the sustainability of aging-in-community and health among older adults. Concurrently, the affordability of higher education is a pressing concern for graduate students. Intergenerational home sharing appears to be a promising solution to help improve the affordability of education and housing, bolster opportunities to age-in-place and age-within-communities, and consequently improve various aspects of health for individuals, families, and society. Although the idea of sharing a home between skipped generations emerged in the mid-twentieth century, programs are often short-lived, small boutique experiences. Moreover, the scholarship is underdeveloped, which may contribute to issues of scalability and low levels of participation. This conceptual paper integrates intergenerational solidarity and productive aging theories to inform the development of policies and programs that bolster engagement in home sharing between graduate students and community-dwelling older adults. We review key factors at the individual and institutional levels, as well as barriers and facilitators at the policy and cultural levels. We conclude with implications for social worker practitioners, researchers, and advocates.

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Sources of funding include the Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program (PI: Gonzales), AARP Foundation (Co-PIs: Gonzales and Butts), New York University, Silver School of Social Work’s Dean of Research Activities (PI: Gonzales), and Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation (PI: Gonzales, Butts as Consultant).

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EG and CW led the writing of the initial manuscript and revisions, with RK contributing to revisions of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the conceptualization of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ernest Gonzales.

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Gonzales, E., Whetung, C., Kruchten, R. et al. Theoretical Orientations to Intergenerational Home Sharing: Implications for Direct Social Work Practice on Addressing Student Debt and Aging-in-Community. Clin Soc Work J 48, 179–188 (2020).

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  • College students
  • Home sharing
  • Intergenerational solidarity theory
  • Older adults
  • Productive aging