A senior care home in Lower Swatara Township is offering affordable housing to a few college students, which its CEO says has benefited current residents.
Beginning this fall, Middletown Home, a continuing care retirement community, opened two furnished apartments to two Penn State Harrisburg students.
Students are welcome to live on the Middletown campus in exchange for 20 hours of volunteering a month along with a monthly fee that Middletown CEO Louis Vogel said is cheaper than most local apartments, but declined to give an exact amount.
“It’s tremendously discounted and meals are included,” Vogel said, adding that the new residents are invited to enjoy everything the facility has to offer, including a café and lounge areas.
Vogel said that this isn’t Middletown’s first dip into intergenerational programming. He said the senior home’s residents have enjoyed interacting with young volunteers in the past. Offering some of those students a place to stay seemed like the next step
“We thought, ‘what would it be like to have students physically live on campus in an independent living apartment and to share their time?’” he said. “When you have the young and old together, there is an awful lot of spirit and joy.”
Vogel said that Middletown residents were initially wary of welcoming college-age residents. He said there was a perception that students might be loud or party into the night, which was remedied with education for current residents and testing for the young residents.
“Just like with employees there is a process in terms of there being certain testing,” Vogel said. “No matter what we do we want to make sure folks are safe and secure. We were very cautious as we moved forward.”
Middletown is expecting to open a third apartment for a new student in the spring semester. Vogel said he sees other senior housing providers including more intergenerational programming in the future, as it benefits both parties.
“There is an interest in it as a vehicle for connecting residents to the broader community, enhancing well-being for both youth and older adults, reducing ageism, and preparing an aging workforce,” he said.