The cost of higher education in the United States is a major barrier to entry, especially for racial and ethnic minorities and for students who are the first generation in their families to attend college. National student loan debt amounts to more than $1.6 trillion, with more than 45 million borrowers. On top of this, many graduate students carrying college debt while pursuing advanced degrees can’t find affordable housing, partly because most university dorms lack space for them.

To begin addressing these challenges, our team at New York University’s Center for Health and Aging Innovation launched an intergenerational housing program in 2018 to promote housing and economic security among graduate students and older adults, reduce social isolation, and foster cross-generational cohesion. The program—which reflects the university’s efforts over the past five years to bolster college affordability, and prioritize equity and aging—intentionally recruits first-generation students, racial and ethnic minorities, women, and individuals who live alone to share housing.

Given the emerging and growing interest among universities in intergenerational home-sharing, Generations United has led an effort to bring faculty and practitioners together to share lessons and effective tools. There are approximately two-dozen universities and community-based organizations across the United States—spanning from Hawai’i to New York City—to help establish and scale these kinds of programs. The following three insights have proved particularly useful:

  1.  Align Interpersonal Expectations
  2. Understand the Meaning of Home
  3. Navigate the Policy Barriers

Read the full article about intergenerational housing by Ernest Gonzales at Stanford Social Innovation Review.