Author: more seniors choosing illegal Golden Girls homes

MARIETTA, GA - "Baby boomers don't want the retirement their parents had," Chris Lambrecht told 11 Alive News on Monday.

Still an active business consultant, baby boomer Lambrecht is also writing a book he plans to call "Living Among Friends, a Boomer's Guide to Housing Options".

He said his research shows that rather than living alone or in retirement communities, more senior citizens, especially women, are choosing to live in what he calls "Golden Girls homes."

The name comes from the popular 1985-1992 TV show of the same name.

Lambrecht said more seniors want to share a home for companionship and to save money on their fixed incomes.

But that is technically illegal in Cobb County and many other communities.

Last fall, Cobb County Commissionersrefused to grant a zoning variance for five Kennesaw State University students renting a single family home in a subdivision near campus. That's because Cobb's housing ordinance didn't allow more than two non-related adults to share a home.

In February they amended it to allow a live-in caretaker or nanny, in addition to the two non-related adults, but no more than that.

Lambrecht believes some seniors are already violating such ordinances in many communities.

"The Golden Girls homes tend to be a very good neighbor and therefore if neighbors don't complain, zoning laws don't get enforced," he told 11 Alive.

Cobb County resident and senior citizen Ruby Mercier keeps a close eye on zoning violations in her neighborhood, but she agrees with Lambrecht that housing options for seniors are too limited.

"If they're behaving themselves, they live in the neighborhood, they have a financial situation, I don't have a problem with it," she told 11 Alive.

Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said the issue of several unrelated seniors sharing a home hasn't come before the board yet, but if it does, she'd be willing to listen.

"They do have the option of coming before us and asking for an exception," she told 11 Alive.

Rather than waiting for it to happen, Lambrecht said local governments need to be pro-active and consider changing their ordinances for seniors now.

He said his research found age-related housing exemptions have already been passed in the Washington, D.C area, and Asheville, N.C., as well as in several communities in New England and the West.


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