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The availability, affordability, and variety of housing options can affect older people’s ability to remain independent and actively engaged in the community. Housing is inextricably connected to quality of life and health issues, as it serves as a shelter and provides comfort and security. To the approximately 79 percent of people age 50 and older who own their own home, it can provide a measure of financial security.
Many older people experience serious housing problems because of high housing costs and inaccessible home design features that decrease physical safety, cause isolation, and do not support aging in place. The financial and physical burdens of keeping a home can result in a decline in physical and mental health. Conversely, health problems may lead to difficulties in maintaining a home. Loss of one’s home may result in a loss of important community ties, or in institutionalization, which has been linked to a decline in physical and mental health.
Enjoying the benefits of home and community may be difficult for older people without the provision of home-and community-based supportive services and programs, and appropriate transportation options that provide adequate alternatives to driving.
In The Spotlight
- Housing costs are becoming more burdensome for older adults, and those who rent or own with mortgages are at greater risk of affordability challenges than those who own their homes debt-free.
- The percentage of homeowners who own their homes free and clear dropped, and the percentage who are still paying mortgages after age 50 rose.
- The current housing crisis is increasing the need for affordable housing, which affects homeowners and renters
- Affordable housing, including housing near transit is threatened by a range of factors: high land costs, limited land near transit, federally subsidized affordable housing units conversion to market rate, restrictive zoning, policy barriers, lack of policies, lack of appropriate planning and lack of financing tools
- As of 2009, approximately 69 percent of affordable apartments located within one-half mile of public transit and more than 71 percent within one-quarter mile are covered by federal rental assistance contracts expiring before the end of 2014.
- 84 percent of persons age 50 and older would like to remain in their current residence for as long as possible.
- Approximately 70 percent of Americans live in single-family homes and the overwhelming majority of these housing units have barriers that make it difficult or impossible for someone with physical disabilities to enter and exit
AARP Housing Principles
Improve home design. Provide safe, decent, and accessible housing that promotes independence and aging in place through home modification and repair, appropriate design features in new and rehabilitated housing (through principles such as universal design, visitability, and energy efficiency), and the use of innovative home products.
Promote affordable housing options. Ensure that land use and other policies support the private and public sectors in providing a variety of housing sizes and types. Promote funding and policy for programs that lead to an adequate supply of affordable rental and ownership options integrated with the community to meet the needs of people of all ages, family compositions, and incomes.
Strengthen federal housing programs. Ensure that policy and funding for housing assistance and preservation programs continue to support residents who choose to remain in their homes as they age and that low- and moderate-income households have access to well-designed, safe, decent, affordable, and accessible housing integrated throughout well-designed communities.
Increase capacity for public-private partnerships. Reauthorize or create programs and policies at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that the private sector has the capacity and tools to effectively partner with governmental agencies to increase the range of housing choices available to older people.
Promote financial security of housing assets. Promote and expand affordable homeownership options, safeguard home equity, and promote the innovative use of housing assets to maintain and improve the independence and quality of life of older people.
Foster home and community-based service delivery. Encourage the delivery of home- and community-based supportive services to assist older people to maintain independence and actively engage in their community.
The US is currently facing an affordable housing crisis. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the nation has approximately three million fewer affordable housing units for low-income people than are needed to house them. Explore
Choice in Housing
A wide range of housing options is necessary to support an individual’s choice to age in place, age in community or move to assisted living should be available. As such, the availability of accessible, affordable, and integrated multi-generational housing options is critical to promoting and sustaining independence and successful aging in communities. Explore
Housing should be adequate to meet the needs of all individuals, including adults age 50 and older who have specific housing needs and preferences. The expected growth of the older population between 2010 and 2050 (from 40 million and 13 percent of the population to 89 million and 20 percent of the population) means that more housing suitable for older adults will be in demand. Policymakers must act now to ensure that housing meets the needs of their communities as they age. Explore
Legal Rights For Residents
Legal protections for residents are a major policy issue at the federal, state, and local levels. Explore
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