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Experience Counts: Chapter 4 - Housing and Aging in Place


Objectives: To enable older persons to remain in the community by providing supportive services and upgrading housing

To promote intergenerational contacts


An age-integrated sheltered housing project for the elderly was established in 1982 in Gilo, a newly-established Jerusalem suburb. The project is located in a housing development of ten 4-story residential blocks, arranged around two large open courtyards. When the community was built, the 51 ground floor apartments were set aside for occupancy by senior citizens. The upper floors are populated mostly by young families with children.

The supportive services of the project include a housemother, an emergency call system, social club, health clinic, maintenance service and linkages with off-site community services. Tenants pay rent based on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay.

An important part of the implementation of the project was a focused effort to develop the mutual acceptance and understanding between elderly and non-elderly residents. In order to promote interaction, the social club is open to both elderly non-residents from the broader community and also incorporates programming with the non-elderly residents and particularly the children.

The management system provides for cooperation among national, municipal and voluntary agencies. The program was established by the JDC-Brookdale Institute in cooperation with JDC-ESHEL on the basis of a special grant from the Brookdale Foundation of New York.

Special Features:

— a focused effort to promote intergenerational contact, and mutual support and understanding

— effective provision of on-site services to support the needs of the elderly

— the design of new housing in advance to accommodate the needs of the elderly in an intergenerational context

— architectural design with an inner courtyard to provide opportunities for intergenerational contact

Replication and Evaluation:

The project was evaluated on a long-term basis. Both the elderly and non-elderly residents were interviewed. The elderly reported a high degree of satisfaction with the setting. After some initial difficulties, intergenerational relations developed in a positive way. The elderly and children and youth reported high rates of social involvement, through friendly contacts, mutual assistance, and participation in the activities of the social club. Based on the success of the model, the concept has also been applied widely in Israel in public housing projects in which a significant number of the residents had aged in place and which have been converted into model intergenerational projects.

Sponsor: The Jerusalem Trusteeship


Development Costs ($1.2 million):

Brookdale Foundation of New York

Government of Israel

Operational Costs (staff salaries, maintenance and administration):

Housemother, social-club director and nurse, operation of social and recreational club activities ($40,000 per year): The Jerusalem Trusteeship (85% of funding from JDC-ESHEL; 12% from tenants' rents)

Major repairs and maintenance: Amidar (Housing Authority) and remaining 88% of tenants' rents


The project has served as the catalyst for other age-integrated projects in response to naturally occurring clusters of elderly and the model has been adapted in several public housing projects in Israel.


Barnea, T. ; Cohen, H. and King, Y. 1987. "Gilo Multigenerational Sheltered-Housing Project." In Care at the Crossroads: Innovative Programs and Services for the Elderly in Los Angeles and Jerusalem, Bolduc, M.; Salend, E.; Beck, J. and Rahman, A. (Eds.) Multicampus Division of Geriatric Medicine, UCLA and JDC-Brookdale Institute, Jerusalem, pp. 13-29. (English)

Bendel, J.-P. and King, Y. 1988. "A Model of Age-Integrated Living for the Elderly: Does it Work?" Journal of Aging and Judaism 3:58-85. (English)

For Further Information:

JDC-ESHEL (The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel)
POB 3489
Tel. 972-2-6557128; Fax 972-2-5662716.


Objective To assist older persons to help themselves improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods


The concept of a supportive neighborhood for older persons was initiated in 1990 in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem. The neighborhood, built in the early 1950's, had begun to decline. The majority of the residents were over 75 years of age, with many living alone and on modest pensions. In order to encourage the elderly to remain in the neighborhood while addressing their needs, a supportive neighborhood program was established. The components of the program include:

— A Crisis and Referral service — Based on a housemother-like model, support is available 24 hours a day from a person residing in the neighborhood. She assists with the organization of services required for daily living and helps the residents in times of crisis.

— Emergency Beeper System — the system is installed in the apartments of the elderly and is connected to a municipal "hotline". This service is also assisted by the housemother.

— Mutual Assistance — good relations among the older residents and between the elderly and neighborhood youth are encouraged and fostered. A special assistance network has been developed for the disabled.

— Counseling and Guidance — Professional counseling is available to the elderly on adapting their apartments and installing special appliances in accordance with their changing needs; information is distributed on other topics related to the quality of life of the elderly.

— Improvement of the Neighborhood Environment — assistance in removing hazards, including fixing paths and stairs, installing handrails and banisters, repairing and increasing lighting, improving the gardens, and the maintenance of public areas.

— Special Supportive Services — delivery of groceries and laundry, postal services, performing repairs and home improvements and coordination with various commercial and public services.

— Social and Cultural Events — group activities and special trips are organized for the community, taking into consideration the special needs of the disabled.

— Activities for the Homebound — special social and occupational activities are organized for the disabled in their homes

— Medical Care — The neighborhood primary care clinic has been reoriented to respond to the special needs of the elderly, including health promotion-related activities and counseling.

— Meals — A local center is being established to provide prepared meals.

The program has been replicated in three other locales and is under consideration in another 12 communities.

Special Features of the Program:

— A comprehensive community-based approach to enable the elderly to age in place, focusing on assistance at both the community and individual level.

— Cooperation between elderly and non-elderly residents

— Broad participation by local, governmental, voluntary and commercial organizations

— Self-participation by the elderly, both financially and as part of the mutual help activities

Sponsors: Neighborhood Council of Kiryat Moshe; JDC-ESHEL (The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Elderly in Israel); The Trusteeship for Planning and Developing Services for the Elderly in Jerusalem; Jerusalem Municipality; and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Financing: Same organizations as above

The elderly residing in the neighborhood. Each member pays a monthly fee of $30, which covers about 70% of the total expenses of the program. Over one-half of all elderly households in the neighborhood have subscribed to the program.

For Further Information:

JDC-ESHEL (The Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged in Israel)
POB 3489
Tel. 972-2-6557128; Fax 972-2-5662716.