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In Charlottesville, a New Model for Intergenerational, Affordable Housing

AARP Foundation supports trailer-park redevelopment

The condo building represents a new kind of partnership for the nonprofit housing organization. "Habitat usually builds everything, but this is a four-story building with commercial space in it, and it's a little bit challenging for volunteers to do the whole thing," said Rosensweig. A construction company will build the shell and then Habitat families will finish their condos. "They're going to leave them basically unfinished — no drywall, flooring or finishes. We're going to come in with volunteers and family members themselves and finish it," he said.
In another new twist, Habitat will own the nine apartments and rent them to the former trailer park residents. "We made the promise to them that they could stay there for the rest of their lives, and so we'll maintain ownership of the lease unless they have someone who passes away that lived in one of these units — we have the option at that point to sell it or re-rent it affordably," said Rosensweig.

The development also features green site design and building techniques, such as a cutting-edge stormwater management system, which keeps most of the rainwater on site. Rain falling on all of the roofs is captured and put into four underground cisterns, and then used to irrigate the communal spaces. The roads and sidewalks are pervious, so rain will soak through and into the ground.

Sunrise Park will also have a community center offering intergenerational programming, including health and wellness programs.

Reflecting AARP Foundation Priorities

Sunrise Park's focus on affordable housing for older people and creating an intergenerational community within walking distance of a downtown commercial district made it a good match for the mission of AARP Foundation.

"It served our target audience and it was a powerful way to bring low-cost housing to an area that was rapidly running out of it," said Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Foundation President.

AARP Foundation is focused on four interconnected priorities where action will have the greatest impact: hunger, housing, isolation and income. This project was an opportunity for AARP Foundation to make a difference in the areas of housing and isolation.

Approximately 13 million low-income 50+ households in America cannot afford their housing costs or live in inadequate housing. Many older people feel isolated because they are not as connected to their communities as they used to be. AARP Foundation works to address these housing and isolation issues by supporting projects such as Sunrise Park.

Also of interest: AARP Foundation housing initiatives. >>

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Older People And

Whether people 50+ own or rent, the repercussions from the recession are severe - abandoned neighborhoods, rent increases and a decrease in affordable, subsidized housing. Millions of homeowners can neither sell their homes nor receive approval to refinance their mortgages at today’s much lower interest rates. 



  • 19 million adults 50+ live in unaffordable or unsafe housing
  • Nearly 25% of household mortgages are underwater - meaning the mortgage is larger than the current value of the house.
  • Foreclosures have been at record levels.

Housing in the

Blog: Aging in Place: An Intergenerational Priority

(Huffington Post, Dec. 2014) "Aging in place" will require a shift in the way our society thinks about the role of communities and the way services are delivered to individuals. Read

New Technologies to Help Seniors Age in Place

(The Wall Street Journal, June 2014) - As the population grows older, engineers and health experts are searching for new ways to prevent elderly people from injuring themselves at home. In doing so, they hope to keep people in their homes longer, a concept known as aging in place. Read

Government Recalls Bed Rails After Reported Deaths

(AARP, May 2014) - The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the voluntary recall of more than 100,000 adult bed rails that it says can pose a serious risk of entrapment, strangulation and death. Read