SCRANTON, Pa. — In Lackawanna County, the Area Agency on Aging is working to solve a growing problem of isolation with the elderly and a lack of professional caretakers.
Students at Johnson College in Scranton are refining their skills indoors now, but in a couple of months, they'll be using what they've learned to build for the greater good.
The school is teaming up with Lackawanna County and other organizations, including the nonprofit NeighborWorks and local business, Simplex, to build cottages for the elderly.
"It's a real problem," said Jason Kavulich. "And older adults living in isolation are all around us."
Kavulich, with the county's Agency on Aging, says isolation and a shortage of caretakers are growing problems for older adults in the community.
To help solve the problem, students are building cottages, which are like tiny homes, that will sit on a family member or other caretaker's property, giving the older adults independence.
"That sense of dignity, it's the sense of respect, the sense of ownership," Kavulich said.
"It's going to be bigger than what your typical tiny house that you've seen on tv," said Todd Campbell, director of the college's carpentry program.
Johnson College displayed one version of the cottages, but the school says they won't look exactly like that since the students are designing them themselves.
The project will include many groups of students.
"For architectural drafting; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technology; electrical construction technology; and then carpentry and cabinet making -- this will all be built into their curriculum," said Katie Leonard, Johnson College president, and CEO.
Instructors will oversee all the work.
"It's sort of neighbors helping neighbors," Leonard said. "It's just a great way for students to see a project from start to finish."
"I look forward to building it, actually. I look forward to seeing the end result and seeing how all the students do on this project," said sophomore Fantajah LaRoche.
Organizers say architectural students are working on designs now, and construction is set to start in January. The houses should be finished around early spring.