The government versus the market

The following story is really the perfect paradigm of why the government always messes up when it gets into the market:

Three months after opening, San Anselmo’s newest affordable housing complex for seniors remains only half-filled, despite waiting lists of up to five years at other facilities throughout the county. “By now, I thought we’d have quite a waiting list,” said Jerry Knecht, president of the Ross Valley Ecumenical Housing Association, which spent five years and $1.6 million to develop Tam House II, a 10-room community house for seniors about two blocks from downtown San Anselmo.

With its large, comfortable couches, private rooms, vegetable garden and shared kitchen – where chef Martin Michel prepares dinner every night – Tam House II

feels more like an old-fashioned boardinghouse than a senior apartment complex.

But it’s that cooperative living model, in which residents share meals, common areas and some bathrooms, that could make it difficult for Tam House II to attract a large number of tenants, according to affordable housing advocates. “Shared living can be a hard model for seniors,” said Leelee Thomas, affordable housing program coordinator for the county Community Development Agency, who previously worked at a community housing complex in Fairfax. “It’s partially a generational thing. Our model growing up, what we were  taught, was that the goal was to own our own private home. As people are aging and set in their ways, it’s even more difficult to share space with people. We went through a huge number of applications to get to those folks who were interested in living in a shared situation.”

You can read the rest here.

You did notice, didn’t you, that this little experiment in senior communal living cost $1.6 million dollars?  Anyone with any knowledge of seniors would know that seniors want more space to themselves, not less, as they grow older.  That’s why, when you have an aged, increasingly helpless parent, it’s such a huge problem convincing him or her that live-in help is the only way to go if he or she wants to remain at home and not move into assisted living.  The elderly, set in their ways, don’t, on the whole, want someone in their territory.  Governments, though, seem not to think in those terms, because the bottom line doesn’t matter as much to them, so they can go with airy-fairy theories unrelated to marketplace realities.


5 Responses

  1. It’s just plain old human nature: as someone grows older and less able to “defend” themselves from life’s real and imagined insults and confrontations with other people they seek to lessen the possible occurrences of those interactions. Communal living causes people to have to maintain a certain level of vigilance that can be stressful and taxing especially to older people.

  2. And old people don’t necessarily want to be responsible for taking care of other old people.

    I don’t know that I’d blame government for this. Communal living is sort of an up and coming sort of thing. I know people moving families into planned communities (in Canada, but…) and my cousin in Norway lives in a somewhat communal situation (but that’s more like a housing associating on drugs.)

    But yeah, there are probably a few old people who think this sounds lovely, but most of them (as we’re told over and over) want to maintain independence.

  3. I don’t see the point in planning a community. A community results from banding together to survive. Is suddenly the government going to exert enough threat of violence to make people band together in the planned communities? Unlikely to be efficient.

    City planning is one thing, but human beings are nor cinder, concrete, and marble.

  4. My father just died and he didn’t want family to help take care of him in his own home. He said he was thinking of going to a home rather than burdening his children with his care. I know he didn’t want people to cook or clean for him either.

  5. […] [Discuss this article with Bookworm over at Bookworm Room…] Share Article government    Sphere: Related Content Trackback URL […]

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