While it may sound like a contradiction, apartments and condominiums for seniors on college campuses is one of the latest innovations in senior housing. Called UBCRs, or University Based Retirement Communities, the properties offer college courses and other activities many seniors find desirable including classes, health clubs, sporting events, medical services, or just the opportunity to socialize with young people in a stimulating setting.
With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, it seems likely that UBCRs are here to stay. CBS Market Watch indicates that there are currently 50 such active communities on campuses with 30 more in the planning stages.
At the University of Florida in Gainesville, a 270 unit senior community called “Oak Hammock” is nestled among the 50,000 students on the grounds of this large campus. Residents are issued college ID cards, allowing them unlimited use of the facilities and activities. A wide range of classes are available and do not require prerequisites, tests or grades. In addition, seniors have access to wellness and business centers, entertainment venues and a state-of-the-art health club. Other amenities include casual and formal dining, a veterinary clinic, gardens, lakes, walking trails and housekeeping services, all covered by 24-hour security in the gated residence community.
Benefits are there for college students should they decide to become involved both through internships in the therapies, marketing and administration as well as paying jobs on-site at UBRCs in maintenance and a variety of other activities. The university reaps the benefit of workrelated experiences for their students while residents enjoy an intergenerational, intellectually challenging environment designed to help seniors remain independent as long as possible. In planning and researching this article, I checked with a variety of organizations that provide senior housing in Western New York and I was not able to find any projects of this type locally. Perhaps someone locally will seize this idea and run with it – I think it’s a good one.