Families change but nowhere to go: Meet Alicia


My name is Alicia Bowman and I live in Newton with my husband and 3 children.

I was heartbroken when I had to take my parents’ car keys away because it was no longer safe for them to drive. The natural question following that was: how would they get their food and other necessities? My parents’ house is neither close to public transit nor walking distance to anything they need.

When I finally located a suitable apartment near a grocery store, it turns out that they still have to cross a busy, six-lane roadway to get there.

My husband’s parents went through a similar experience when they had to move out of their home that had four flights of stairs. My father-in-law felt guilty that his physical needs put his wife in a situation where she, too, was losing her independence. Eventually, they became housebound over the long winters and beyond, isolated from friends and activities.

People think it won’t affect them until they’re old. But I have friends who have become disabled and faced similar challenges. We have to have some more options. It’s something that will impact everybody.

I, too, want to age in my community. Within the next five years, my husband and I will be empty-nesters and would like to downsize but stay in Newton. We would like something with less upkeep, and help us reduce our expenses.

As we plan for the next 30+ years of our life, we need a home that is accessible, with less stairs and easier to maneuver, but also close to things so that we can live without a car while remaining active throughout the year for long-term health.

Even Newton, with all of its amenities, has very few areas that can meet these criteria because the housing there is older and mostly single family. We have many people in our community who fail to see the need for different housing types and who actively fight projects that would provide more accessible housing. One day they too will need more accessible housing, but of course it will be too late for them.

Great communities should enable aging residents to retain control of their lives, rather than forcing them to live in dormitory-like situations because there are no better options.

Great Neighborhoods legislation would help communities change the conversation from “Should we have multifamily housing in our community?” to “How should we do it?” We have the opportunity to identify good locations and make those places work for people at all stages of life, from Millennials to people in my generation.

Thank you for reading and sharing my story.

Alicia Bowman


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