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Can Hawaii Meet Housing/Transportation Needs of Our Elderly?

A new survey of Hawaii landowners and developers suggests that while many developers have built projects supportive of the state’s aging population, significant barriers to the construction of livable communities incorporating mixed-use development, multi-modal transportation, and other age-friendly concepts remain. Barriers most frequently mentioned were financing, time delays in the permitting process, and high construction costs.

The goal of the AARP study is to better understand the barriers and opportunities faced by Hawaii's major developers and landowners in building communities where residents can age in place. As the number of Hawaii residents age 65 and older increases by nearly 40 percent over the next 10 years, most residents say they would like to stay in their homes and communities – closer to friends, family and vital services like grocery stores and drug stores.

“The survey is encouraging in that many developers and landowners understand and apparently apply the concepts involved in building livable communities. But it also raises concerns about the barriers that prevent more livable communities from being built,” said AARP Hawaii Associate State Director Jackie Boland. “We hope it will ignite a dialogue among elected officials and developers leading to the construction of housing and transportation options that address the needs of our aging population.”

Among the key findings of the survey:

  • Hawaii's developers and landowners feel they currently apply, and are likely to apply in the future, key livable community concepts such as multi-modal transportation (Now: 65%, Future: 81%), mixed-use development (Now: 61%, Future: 81%), visitability (Now: 50%, Future: 65%), and walkability (Now: 81%, Future: 88%).
  • Although the likelihood is high for future application of these concepts, barriers to development must be addressed by a variety of public and private sector partners.
  • Whereas less than one-third of Hawaii's developers and landowners have focused on developing housing for Hawaii's 50+ population in the past, more than two-thirds say they will in the future, and half of respondents said that this new focus will be a profitable endeavor for their company.

The new report is intended for use as a reference for elected officials, regulator, advocates, developers, and landowners who are interested in learning more about the housing and transportation needs of Hawaii’s growing 65+ population.

AARP believes that successful aging-in-place requires a combination of mixed-use development where commercial services such as grocery stores and pharmacies are in close proximity to residential housing; multi-modal transportation where non-drivers have easy, safe, and convenient access to walking, bicycling, para-transit, or public transportation options; and homes that have universal design concepts such as wide doors, low fixtures and cabinetry, and zero-step entrances.

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