Golden Girls Go Home

The ’80s TV sitcom The Golden Girls mostly offered
viewers bad acting and laugh tracks, but it gave Connie
Skillingstad a good idea: older women who live together.
Skillingstad is founder of Golden Girl Homes, a group that helps
older widows, divorcees, and otherwise single women find or create
alternative, affordable shared housing.

‘Golden Girls is about helping open up the options for women,’
says Skillingstad. Formed in 2001, the Twin Cities-based nonprofit
is based on the premise that older women want, need, and deserve
more diverse housing options than senior housing facilities or
solitary living. For many women it is not financially feasible to
purchase and maintain a house on their own, and single living may
leave them feeling lonely and disconnected.

‘A lot of women are interested in living in communities,’ says
Skillingstad, a

59-year-old social worker. ‘The senior housing that’s being
built by developers is too expensive, and many women don’t want to
live in a senior housing complex.’

The Golden Girls solution is not so much matching up potential
roommates as it is helping with the logistics of shared housing. To
this end, the group, which includes about 200 women whose ages
range from 40 into the 80s, meets monthly to discuss everything
from the legal issues of these new-style households to the
practicalities of living with people other than family. They are
currently working to create a list of questions that potential
roommates can ask each other to gauge their compatibility.

‘Those of us who’ve raised kids and have worked our whole lives
get to that point and say, ‘Is that all there is?” says
Skillingstad, who hopes Golden Girl Homes ultimately will spread
across the country. ‘There ought to be something more fun.’

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