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May 2011 - Housing for Older Adults

In the Toolbox

This issue of In Focus This issue of In Focus highlights the housing needs of older adults. By 2030, it is projected that 1 in 5 adults will be over the age of 65, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. The implications of this rapid demographic shift merit special attention from local and state governments, especially when it comes to affordable housing issues.

Many older adults live in homes that lack accessibility features, are unaffordable, energy inefficient, or are located far from destinations and amenities essential to meeting their daily needs. Others need various kinds of assistance to maintain their independence and autonomy but cannot afford the supportive services that would allow them to age successfully in a residential environment.'s toolkit on meeting the housing needs of older adults provides a detailed exploration of these and other challenges facing older adults and describes a range of promising policies that some communities are adopting to address them. The toolkit is divided into three sections: providing accessible, safe, and affordable homes; improving access to social services and transportation options; and supporting housing models geared to older adults.

Explore the Toolkit

"Out Loud" Podcast

This month's Out Loud For the first time, this month's Out Loud features a vodcast (video podcast) with Rodney Harrell, PhD, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor - Housing and Livable Communities at the AARP Public Policy Institute. Dr. Harrell describes examples of affordable senior housing near transit in Minneapolis, MN and Cleveland, Ohio from the report, Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities. Through interviews with residents in the housing complexes studied, along with a scan of the surrounding area, Dr. Harrell sheds light on the qualities that make transit-oriented development work for older adults. This vodcast is one in a series of three on transit-oriented development produced by AARP.

Watch the Vodcast

Solutions in Action

Cohousing, a form of residential development designed to emphasize community interaction through private residences with shared common facilities, can provide older adults the freedom to live independently among friends who believe in active "neighboring" and who look out for one another. Senior cohousing communities often include accessible structures designed for persons with physical disabilities and may include optional studio residences in a common house to provide living quarters for home health aides whose services may be shared by several residents. Senior cohousing may forestall or prevent a move to an assisted living residence by allowing residents to age in place even as their needs change.

One senior cohousing development, the ElderSpirit Community at Trailview in Abingdon, VA, has a total of 29 units. Thirteen are owner-occupied, and 16 are subsidized rental homes available to low- and moderate-income households. ElderSpirit demonstrates that where there is an identified community need and available government support, cohousing can be a viable alternative for low-income older adults.

Learn More about this Solution in Action

New Award to Honor Creative Workforce Housing Solutions

The Urban Land Institute has announced a new workforce housing awards competition-- The Robert C. Larson Awards-- to recognize exemplary state and local programs, policies and practices that support the production, rehabilitation or preservation of workforce housing. The Robert C. Larson Award will also recognize new or emerging state and local programs and policies that have the potential to significantly expand workforce housing opportunities in the future. State and local governments are eligible to apply. The deadline to submit is June 15, 2011.

Learn More About the Awards

Share Your Story

Older adults that live on a fixed income may struggle to maintain their monthly mortgage payments or rent. Do you know of any loan or grant programs to help low-income seniors pay for property taxes and insurance so that they can remain in their home?

Join our Older Adults discussion group on the Forum to respond to this question or add your own. Share your experiences with fellow housing practitioners across the country!

Visit the Forum to Share Your Story


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Featured Gallery Entry:

Chestnut Garden Apartments, Lynn, MA

Courtesy of MB Properties


March 2011: Foreclosure Response
February 2011: Shared Equity Homeownership
November 2010: Employer-Assisted Housing
September 2010:
Rental Housing Preservation
July 2010:
Improve Residential Energy Efficiency
May 2010:
Disaster Resistant Housing
April 2010:
Housing Solutions Week Recap
December 2009: Coordinated Housing and Transportation Policies
September 2009:
Shared Equity Homeownership and Asset Building
July 2009:
Post-Conference Edition
April 2009: Learning Conference
March 2009: Neighborhood Stabilization
December 2008: Neighborhood Stabilization
November 2008: Neighborhood Stabilization
October 2008: Transit-Oriented Development
September 2008: Inclusionary Zoning
August 2008: Rental Housing Preservation
July 2008: Shared Equity Homeownership
June 2008:Green Affordable Housing -- This issue of In Focus kicked off a series ofSix Housing Policies for a World of High Energy Costs
May 2008:Foreclosure Prevention
April 2008:Employer-Assisted Housing
February 2008
-- was launched in January 2008 as part of Housing Solutions Week. Click here to view materials from the week.