Group homes for mixed age groups


Having a goal of providing a full size/full functioning apartment even if efficiency size for homeless or low income people may be supportive of individual need for privacy and autonomy, however if the goal is to support health and improving functional living skills then a group home with private sleep accommodations and lockable areas for personal things, and group areas for cooking, daycare, and recreation might be more effective and less expensive.

In my professional career I worked with low income populations with young children or in prenatal points in time before a first child had arrived. A common complaint I heard about my job from some people not in need of help was that it was unnecessary or wasteful for the government to provide food and education for low income women and families. A common complaint also seemed to suggest that anyone receiving aid was a lazy or not trying or a user. In my experience this was not true of most participants. While some did seem to just want food benefits and seemed to feel entitled to receiving help from others with no exchange of cooperation with the larger health and education goals, most recipients were extremely grateful for the help and just wanted a job or a better job so that they wouldn’t need the external source of government aid. Some areas of the country have plenty of jobs but housing is too expensive to be able to live nearby and commutes add time and expense to get to the job, while other areas don’t have enough jobs and housing may be available nearby but it is old and inefficient for the climate (too expensive to heat or cool and dehumidify in extreme temperatures).

Current systems that provide housing aid generally provide individual living units. While that supports individual tastes in personal habits and food choices it is more expensive than group cooking facilities would cost. It is also currently very difficult to remove children from a low functioning home unless something like drug use is discovered. A group living facility with group daycare and group kitchen facilities could require a certain amount of volunteer hours from people living in the group home and additional staff could be present to provide guidance and over-site of the management of the larger goals of providing healthy variety in food and activities. Lower functioning parents would be mixing with better role models of parenting and/or at least the children would be mixing with better role models of what effective caregiving is like. Even having one positive adult role model in a child’s life can help a child become a well functioning pro-social adult instead of becoming a dysfunctional adult.

An advantage of providing group homes from the perspective of the common complaint of not wanting to give handouts to the ‘undeserving’ would be that a group home wouldn’t be the same as a regular efficiency or larger apartment. The people living in a group home might end up actually preferring the continuity and social benefits of living in a community or they might improve their skills and health and access to regular employment so that they could earn their way into their own regular type of housing.

Dormitory style housing units plans that already exist could be a starting point in designing a low income group home but they are not ideal for a mixed range of ages and interests. The group areas in college dormitories are designed for one type of age range and aren’t child friendly. A group home for mixed ages and types of families and single people might have more homelike, smaller rooms so that smaller groups could enjoy a variety of types of activities or television shows. Sleeping accommodations might be shared with lockable cupboards available such as those found at bus stations for a few personal items. Or small private sleep areas might be preferred for single people and small families. Compared to a tent or sleeping in a car, or sleeping sitting up in a public area, even a very small private room would be a luxury.

All people appreciate respect and feeling valued can improve self esteem and willingness to work towards improving. Feeling marginalized or observing others being marginalized has been associated with increased risk for violence. Experiencing child trauma or domestic violence has also been associated with increased risk for violence. Being male and having a history of binge drinking has also bee associated with increased risk for violence. if we want less violence and less mass shooting incidents in our society than instead of focusing primarily on gun control it would make sense to focus more help on providing children with safer environments and providing them with more pro-social role models in their lives. Child trauma happens and the children who have a positive adult role model in their lives are the ones who are more likely to develop resilience and pro-social habits as adults.

If we want less violence and fewer mass shooters then it seems reasonable to focus on promoting fewer people prone to violence. Targeting the underlying issues that have been associated with risk for violence makes more sense than simply trying to take away guns – there are a lot more guns and other means for violence available than there are people prone to violence. Trying to provide more effective alcohol abuse treatment could be helpful as that is a risk factor. Reducing marginalization of minorities and mental illness could help reduce the risk of observers with similar problems feeling hopeless and helpless about their own situations and reduce their risk for violence.

Group homes might be a helpful solution for low income people or veterans, homeless, low functioning, mentally ill but non-violent individuals, people trying to end addictive behavior patterns, or non-violent people with a history of a prison record. Some group homes might be focused more on people with children and some on single people or mixed ‘villages’ might be better for both groups. It takes a village to raise a child and children can be a delight and reason for hope in all age groups. Respecting and valuing elders in a community might be easier for a child who had plenty of story time with a variety of grandma and grandpa types in their lives.

Villages are small ideally, for human comfort level. Business research regarding the most effective size for individual team/facility units within a larger corporation has found that around 150 people is what works best for individual workers, and psychology research supports that our brains have comfort levels for community size. Smaller apartment buildings/group homes that seek to shelter around 150 people per unit might be most conducive to building a sense of community within the occupants then having larger units. Or within larger units small communities could be organized around smaller communal living areas, cooking and daycare facilities.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Tragedy and child trauma

  • Tragedy in Florida, magnesium Epsom salt footsoaks or baths can help with anxiety, paranoia, anger, and physical muscle cramps, tension or some types of chronic pain. About 20 minutes in a bath or 20-40 in a footsoak is adequate. Too long can lead to too much magnesium absorption.
  • A recent article on an alternative news site discusses the idea that the violence embedded throughout our society may need to be addressed if we are truly to hope to end the frequent shootings and other violence that has been happening too often for tears to dry from the last occurrence.
  • Tragedy and child trauma is a topic I’ve had too many occasions to write about lately. I’ve modified this post and reposted it in respect for the sorrow and death that occurred in Texas on 11/5 caused by an ex military person with a history of domestic violence in the hope that it may help children. Talking about traumatic events can help children and adults work through the pain or fear of a memory and in the process move the memory from a more emotional short term storage area of the brain into a less emotionally triggering long term area of the memory.

The number of deaths and injuries that occurred is devastating, heart-breaking, and my thoughts & prayers are with the families and also anger at the injustice of a random act of violence disrupting and ending so many lives. Calls for more stringent gun control and gun safety classes may make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to have guns while criminals would likely still have a black market for them but the graph in this link suggests it would help:

The shooter wouldn’t have been able to legally obtain a gun if his history of domestic violence had been properly reported to the current system however, and the shooter was stopped by an NRA member who was nearby and was called for help by a witness.

This link includes many statistics and a variety of ways that gun safety might be increased without necessarily taking away the right to own guns.

The current administration recently made it easier for people with mental illness to obtain guns legally,

However most mental illness doesn’t increase risk of mass violence. A history of child trauma or domestic violence is linked to it. And copying previous acts of violence is also a risk. This comment sums it up

Men and society support of kindness might help. Research suggests testosterone may have a role to play in men copying good or bad behavior. Testosterone in men can lead to trying to be better, bigger, faster, more whatever – the crowd of other men seem to approve. More positive acts being approved leads to more better, bigger, faster, etc positive acts and when negative honor killings or other negative treatment of people, women or children seem to be supported then that may lead to more extreme negative acts. (p106-107, Sapolsky) Men and women, boys and girls can help promote safety by not supporting violence or harassment of women and girls or other minority groups or poor people. We as a group also tend to like to feel superior to someone when in reality we are all just a brief moment in geologic time. the planet has had many long phases without humans and may yet again if we don’t start working towards a more sustainable way of using our planet’s limited supply of resources.

We all have quirks and good days and bad days but not like the shooter in Texas. Most of us are caring and can control ourselves or punch a pillow if we’re angry. The common theme of random mass violence is a male with a history of domestic violence or who experienced child trauma and who may be a binge drinker. From a previous post: Regarding potential underlying reasons for a person to resort to mass violence – typically it isn’t due to “mentally ill” people unless they were already prone to violence. An increased risk for violence is not associated with depression, anxiety or ADHD. Increased risk for mass violence is significantly associated though with being a male who had experienced child trauma and who is a binge drinker.  ( )

So addressing poverty and binge drinking would likely help more than focusing just on gun control methods, 50% of children live in poverty, which is associated with stress for the household.

Until we change our approach to equality in general and regarding gender relations we may not achieve the peace that I knew as a child.  It can help children and survivors to talk about their experience or fears, otherwise there can be a risk of PTSD, an over active fear response which can worsen with repeated trauma.

From a previous post: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur in observers of trauma even if they weren’t harmed. There are many helpful articles available on the topic: (Talking about trauma may help prevent PTSD)

Some other tips for helping reduce symptoms of PTSD

More information about early childhood and developing trust through secure attachment parenting styles is available on my new website, in the section Trust is Learned Early.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.