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New Housing Initiatives Match AARP Foundation's Approach

Aging in place a key component of addressing senior needs

Entrada de una casa con sillas campestres y flores dan la bienvenida a los posibles compradores - 10 Consejos para vender su casa

One of the best solutions for housing problems is enabling aging in place. — © Corbis

On February 25, members of AARP Foundation’s Housing Impact Group took part in a forum about the Bipartisan Policy Center’s new report, Housing America’s Future. The report, which concludes that "our nation’s housing system is broken," contains a section on aging in place and integrating senior housing with health care and other services.

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"AARP Foundation is working now to meet the housing needs of the vulnerable 50+, and we welcome the Bipartisan Policy Center’s new report," said Jo Ann Jenkins, president of the Foundation. She noted the Foundation’s Housing Impact Area is already focusing on many of the issues highlighted in Housing America’s Future: To allow struggling older adults to age in place safely, the Foundation’s Home Repair Accelerator initiative has granted $780,000 to home repair organizations across the country to pilot new operational models of home repair to increase the number of affordable  repairs and modifications for seniors, while the Foundation’s Housing Solutions Center connects  low-income older people  in danger of foreclosure with free HUD-certified housing counseling.

Housing America’s Future reports that the United States is "not equipped to respond to the desires of millions of Americans who wish to stay in their own homes and age in place during their senior years." To meet the housing needs of older Americans, it recommends several policy changes:

Make it a national priority to support aging in place by modifying existing single-family houses, apartments, and communities – and design new ones. Specific recommendations include supporting initiatives to retrofit homes and apartments for energy conservation and aging in place, better integrating aging-in-place priorities into existing federal programs, and convening a White House conference on aging in place.

Strengthen our nation’s capacity to deliver health care and other critical services in residential and community-based settings by removing barriers to the creative use of residential platforms to meet the health and long-term care needs of low- to moderate-income senior residents.

Develop solutions for affordable rental housing with services  for older people, including changing today’s long-term rental assistance programs to focus on the most vulnerable Americans with incomes at or below 30 percent of average mean income (AMI).

Educate consumers  about the financial mechanics of reverse mortgages and other home equity access products, and promote the development of low-cost alternative products for seniors and family caregivers.

Housing America’s Future also included recommendations for improved access to home ownership for all credit-worthy households; reforming the housing finance system to give the private sector a far more prominent role in bearing the credit risk; and a more targeted approach to providing rental assistance for the nation’s lowest-income renters while insisting on a high level of performance by housing providers.

The housing report was prepared by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission under a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The Housing Commission is co-chaired by leaders from both sides of the aisle: former Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Missouri, former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Henry Cisneros, a Democrat, and former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, who also is a past HUD secretary.

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