Create shared community housing for people with disabilities, the elderly and students.

A man I work with has a disability and lived in public housing. His experiences were simply awful. He and his wife were scared and would lock themselves in their flat at night trying to ignore the screaming outside; they would often walk over people lying in the stairwell with needles in their arms; his wife had been held at knife point; and one evening a body fell from above hitting their balcony on the way down. I realise that drug addicts need support and I support this; however unfortunately their environment sometimes involves violence. We must stop placing our most vulnerable citizens in environments that would frighten many of us. My idea is to create living arrangements to support people with disabilities living with elderly people. We could repurpose old schools or, better still, create community housing in universities. The benefits are considerable: residents could belong to a community and access university services; students could assist residents as part of university programs (therapy, psychology, gardening); some accommodation could be dedicated as free student accommodation in return for hours of services. People with disabilities are usually fun and happy and their joy together with the energy of the university students could bring life to the elderly. And of course the elderly could assist people with disabilities and some students could access free accommodation. A similar project in Europe (aged care and university students) showed the elderly enjoyed the energy and distraction the students provided and the students developed greater respect and empathy for the elderly.

To bring it to life? We would need to develop a working group of community leaders to explore the two main issues: 1. Would it be socially beneficial? and 2. How could we make it economically viable?

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