Let’s Pod Grandma!

“And if you threw a pod…” okay, that’s as far as I was able to take that joke.

This week in POD NEWS: the Minnesota Senate, along with Governor Mark Dayton, passed a law allowing temporary “granny pods” to be placed on residential property—unless individual Minnesota cities choose to opt out of the law.

The granny pods aren’t like your typical mother-in-law apartment. These are structures designed for people who need medical and/or hospice care:

Minnesota senators back ‘granny pods’ for sick family

The legislation would make it legal, unless a local government bans it, to allow temporary trailer-like homes to be placed on caregivers’ land, even if zoning ordinances otherwise would not allow it. The homes could be located there for up to a year, and the resident must be under health care.

The St. Cloud Times gives us a little more detail:

St. Cloud says no to ‘granny pods’ for now

The units are meant to provide transitional housing for those who are mentally or physically impaired and need help with two or more activities crucial to daily living, as certified by a physician. The law limits the time frame for the dwellings to six months, with the possibility for a one-time six-month renewal.

“This seems to be a rational, easy way to deal with the need and care people have,” [Councilwoman Carol Lewis] said.

But—if you caught the headline on that St. Cloud Times article—St. Cloud has opted out of granny pods, on a 6–1 vote.

Eden Prairie is also against granny pods, as is Northfield and “multiple other cities:”

West metro briefs: Eden Prairie expected to opt out of ‘granny pods’ for seniors

Eden Prairie city code doesn’t permit temporary dwellings, and city leaders said in a memo that there are other tools in place for transitional housing for seniors in the west metro suburb.

POLL: Northfield council to discuss ‘granny pods,’ noise ordinance and Riverwalk fishing

City of Northfield staff contacted multiple other cities to see which way they were leaning, and almost all responded with ‘opt out.’ Staff is recommending to the council an ordinance to opt out.

Why are all of these cities against the idea of providing temporary structures that allow people with health care needs to live near family? These structures, from what I understand, come pre-equipped with mobility aids (grab rails, etc.) to allow people to live as comfortably as possible, with family—who are, more than likely, their primary caretakers—a few feet away.

Well, some people think those few steps from the back door to the granny pod are a few steps too many. As a St. Cloud Times editorial explains:

St. Cloud is right to curb ‘granny pods’

Can’t we do better for people with special needs than to place them in a backyard shelter? If we find room for pets in your house, how about room for granny or someone with special needs?

We agree with council member Carol Lewis that there is a “gray tsunami” of aging boomers and senior citizens who will require housing and care. But a collection of small huts in the neighborhood hardly sounds like a compassionate and permanent solution to elder care housing.

Wow. First of all: A PERSON IS NOT A PET.

Second of all: the granny pod is making room for a person with special needs. It is an actual, tangible room designed specifically around that person’s needs! Not everybody has an extra bedroom, much less one located on the first floor that’s conveniently located near an accessible bathroom—and that’s just the start of what these granny pods can provide.

There’s a lot I don’t know about Minnesota’s granny pods, like how much they cost to rent and what will happen if the person using the pod needs care for more than a year. I’m also well aware that granny pods won’t be accessible to all of the families who need them, since not everyone has a backyard large enough to include a temporary pod. (Now I’m envisioning Granny Pod Park, which I’m sure Minnesota cities would like even less.) But they seem, at least in concept, to be a great idea.

What do you think? Would you want your city to vote yes or no on granny pods?

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