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United Helpers to pitch senior housing idea to Norwood


NORWOOD — Representatives of United Helpers will meet with Norwood residents Friday to get feedback on a possible new way to look at senior housing.

United Helpers has spent the last several months developing a co-housing model, inspired by similar setups in some midwestern states.

Co-housing is a living plan for senior citizens who want to stay in their communities instead of moving to a large care facility or campus.

If the program is implemented, between six and eight seniors could live together in a single house, with meals, housekeeping and transportation provided by United Helpers.

“It creates a model where folks can stay in their own community. For instance, we have an assisted living program in Canton, but if you live in a different community and want to stay there we may not have an option for you,” said United Helpers CEO Stephen E. Knight.

The houses would either be purchased and renovated to meet the program’s needs, or built from scratch specifically for senior living.

The program is still in its early planning stages, and United Helpers is now looking for feedback from north country communities.

“Now that we have a model and a concept formed, we’re going to communities to talk to focus groups to further refine the idea,” Mr. Knight said.

The first meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Norwood Municipal Building.

No other meetings have been planned, but more will be held in other towns throughout the year, according to Mr. Knight.

Senior co-housing has been an increasingly popular trend in other parts of the nation, Mr. Knight said.

“We have been following the co-housing model for at least two to three years,” he said.

Developing a similar program is one of United Helpers priorities for 2013, according to Mr. Knight, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done if it is to be implemented.

The rest of the year will be dedicated to exploring whether it is worthwhile, and how it should be introduced.

“If we did decide to move ahead, it probably wouldn’t be until at least 2014,” Mr. Knight said.

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