Housing needs change as we age, but it’s possible for our homes and communities to be livable for people of all ages and life stages.
This free, online workshop will bring together local leaders, housing practitioners, and AARP staff and volunteers to explore how communities nationwide can provide safe, affordable housing options for individuals and families of all backgrounds, incomes and abilities.
Through four core themes — Housing Choice, Design, Stability, and Equity — the workshop will share best practices, insights and inspiring next steps for meeting the housing needs of a changing nation.
Day 1: Wednesday, September 21
Mike Watson: Welcome. We're so glad that you have joined us for the 2022 AARP Livable Communities Workshop -- Housing for People of All Ages. I'm Mike Watson, Director of Livable Communities and Enterprise Lead for Livable Communities at of AARP. It's a real pleasure to be with all of you, and to be here in AARP's broadcast studio with my colleague, Rodney Harrell, Vice President of Housing and Livable Communities in AARP's Public Policy Institute, where he also serves as the Enterprise Lead for Housing.
Rodney Harrell: Thanks, Mike. It's great to be here. And it's fantastic to see so many people with us for this important discussion. You'll all see Mike and I periodically throughout the program to help facilitate our speakers, and more importantly, facilitate your engagement with our speakers.
Mike Watson: And we're so glad that you took the time to participate in this two-day virtual event featuring dozens of speakers discussing the landscape of housing for people of all ages and sharing best practices, challenges, and more. Now every year, AARP hosts a national workshop on an issue that is top of mind for the communities that we work with. In past years, we've focused on topics like community engagement, transportation, placemaking, and rural livability. And as we looked across the landscape of issues that local leaders and older adults were focused on, a clear need emerged: Housing. To share why we're addressing this topic, it's my pleasure to introduce Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer and Executive Vice President for Community, State, and National Affairs here at AARP.
Nancy LeaMond: Hello, and welcome to the 2022 AARP Livable Communities Workshop: Housing for People of All Ages. I'm Nancy LeaMond, AARP's Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer. One of my top priorities is making sure that the issues facing older adults get the attention and action they deserve from leaders at the federal, state, and local levels. In recent years, that has included fighting for and achieving victories that will lower prescription drug prices, expand access to affordable high-speed internet, and ensure that policies under the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts are implemented in a way that benefits people of all ages, including older adults. Many of you have helped champion these and other AARP priorities. Thank you for your partnership. But there's a lot more work to do, particularly in the area of housing.
We know that 8 in 10 Americans aged 50+ want to stay in their homes as they age. But too often, their houses or apartments don't have the features they need to do this safely, and many communities don't yet have the policies, programs, and infrastructure to support an aging population. Fortunately, we're starting to see action and positive change. Across the country, federal funding is being used to expand high-speed internet access, improve public transportation, make streets safer, and much more. And when the pandemic hit, elected leaders and committed activists took action to help people stay in their homes during economic turmoil. Now, with overall inflation and rising housing costs threatening the financial security of older Americans, communities are responding to help ease that burden led by folks like you.
AARP is committed to being your partner working with you and supporting efforts to make your towns, cities, counties, and rural areas great places to live for people of all ages. AARP programs like this network of age-friendly states and communities, and AARP community challenge grants are delivering direct support and building momentum for change. And resources such as AARP's Livability Index and free publications, like the one we're releasing today on Missing Middle Housing, provide important information. Over the next two days, you'll learn more about these tools and hear about inspiring work from across the country, and perhaps most important, we will have the opportunity to listen and learn from you. So with that, thank you for joining us and contributing to these important conversations.
Rodney Harrell: As Nancy shared, housing is a critical topic if we want to create more livable communities. It's wonderful to hear that communities around the country are working towards commonsense solutions in this area, things like providing a greater diversity of housing options, advocating for housing stability and equity, and reducing barriers to construction and renovations that could support aging in place. That's what our housing approach at AARP is all about, making sure that our nation's housing stock fits the realities of a changing America.
Now throughout this workshop we'll tackle four key themes. First, we'll start by talking about housing choice to look at what we can do to expand the diversity of housing types in our communities. Then we'll turn to housing design to look at how we can build more housing with universal design and accessibility principles in mind to ensure that our homes can fit us as we age. After that, we'll then address housing stability. The housing affordability is a crisis around the country, particularly for renters and older adults who want to stay in their homes and communities. Finally, we'll close with a session on housing equity and the need to address long-standing disparities in housing access that can impact historically disadvantaged communities.
As you can see, there's a lot here, and we'll be covering a lot of ground.
Mike Watson: That's right, Rodney, we are going to be covering a lot of ground, and we're looking forward to hearing about these topics from our speakers. As you shared, housing is a core issue for us when it comes to creating livable places for all. We see that reflected as a pillar issue for the 700 communities, 9 states, and 1 US territory that are part of the AARP network of age-friendly states and communities. Many of you are tuning in today, so we want to take a moment and commend you for the actions that you're taking on behalf of older adults.
And in the spirit of action, I'm also delighted to share that today AARP is releasing in concert with our partner Opticos Design, a new resource to help communities advance discussions on housing. This new publication, Discovering and Developing Missing Middle Housing is available for free to download or order at AARP.org/MissingMiddleHousing. And Missing Middle Housing is all one word. The tool is loaded with examples, guidance, best practices, and even has a section with step-by-step directions for you to go out and host a Missing Middle Walking Tour in your community. Five AARP state offices are doing just that across the country as part of this event. We hope you'll download and use this resource, and stay tuned to our website for another upcoming tool produced by AARP, Re-Legalizing Middle Housing: a Model Act for Middle Housing and Guide to Statewide Legislation that's going to be coming out in October.
Rodney Harrell: I'm really excited about both the Act and the Guide, Mike. These new tools are really great for communities, and I'm also looking forward to some great discussion today.
On that note, we hope that this experience is centered around your engagement and interaction, and we're excited to spend the next two days with the thousands of people who registered to join us. Now to get the most engagement and interaction, we're going to heavily lean on technology to help us connect. So to help us do that, Mike's going to cover some important details right now.
Mike Watson: Thanks, Rodney. Now we're all much more familiar with Zoom than we were a few years ago. We'll also be using several tools over these next two days, so I want to cover a few things that will make our experience richer.
First, you should see on the screen instruction for engaging in Zoom Chat, which is going to allow you to send a message to everyone or to specific attendees. Let's go ahead and get the conversation started there now. Feel free to drop in the Chat one housing challenge that you're facing in your community. You're going to be able to use the conversation throughout the workshop to engage with your fellow attendees. Now again, if you're not there, we invite you to begin now by dropping in one housing challenge that you're facing in your community. And also, if you have questions about the Zoom platform, you can enter those into Chat, and a Zoom expert will be on hand to help you.
Now that we've covered the Chat and questions about Zoom, I also want to familiarize you with some of the accessibility features today. If you'd like to turn on closed captioning, please click on the CC button to turn on those captions. You should also see a speaker box on your screen with our American Sign Language interpreters, Joi Bannister and Mary Beth Morgan.
So now that we've covered the accessibility features, I also want to encourage you to join along with other participants by engaging with us in Twitter using #AARPLivable and following along on our Twitter handle, @AARPLivable. You'll see that hashtag and our Twitter handle on the screen throughout the event. And we're also going to be using the platform Slido for polling and to facilitate your questions today and tomorrow. On your screen you'll see the instructions for joining Slido today. There's two ways to do this; you can either log into your browser and type in S-l-i dot d-o (Sli.do), and enter the event code, LivableHousing, all one word, or you can pull out your phone and scan the QR code on your screen.
We're going to test this out now with a poll question. So go ahead and follow those instructions on the screen and make sure you're on the "Polls" tab. With that, while you're all getting there, here's our first question: What state or country are you joining us from? Already seeing some answers popping up, but if you're not there yet, please join us in Slido and tell us what state or country you're joining us from. And Rodney, I'm looking down at this now, and it's kind of hard to track because there's so much movement, but it seems like we've got a really strong representative sample from across the country with some heavy representation from California and Florida. What are you seeing?
Rodney Harrell: Kentucky was on the lead early, but the other states are coming back. It's great to see so many states up there, Mike. I'm clearly impressed.
Mike Watson: Wonderful, yeah, and really, I think it really gives you a great sense of where we're all tuning in from, and how you can use the tool. Now finally, you should also see the instructions on how to ask a question. As before, you can either go to S-l-i dot d-o (Sli.do) in your browser and enter the event code LivableHousing, again that's all one word, or you can just scan the QR code that's up on the screen. Then make sure you're on the "Q&A" tab on the top of the page.
Now I'm really excited to kick it back to you, Rodney, to introduce our first panel.
The presentation transcript was created by an automated transcription tool. Anyone looking to quote or use information from the event is advised to compare the text to the video recording.
- Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Moderator: Rosanna Márquez is a member of the AARP Board of Directors. She was formerly the Midwest regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Plenary Panel: Housing Choice
A discussion about diversifying housing choices in order to provide more options that can meet the needs of people of all ages, abilities and incomes.
- Emily Hamilton is a senior research fellow and director of the Urbanity Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her research focuses on urban economics and land-use policy.
- Tya Winn is the executive director of the Community Design Collaborative, a Philadelphia-based architectural nonprofit, and an advocate for affordable housing and community development.
- Moderator: Shannon Guzman is the director of housing and livable communities for the AARP Public Policy Institute.
Plenary Panel: Housing Design
A discussion of efforts to design housing for people of all ages and ability levels, especially for older adults and residents with disabilities.
- Jennifer Molinsky is project director of the Housing and Aging Society Program at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. She leads research on housing challenges facing an aging population.
- Cynthia Shonaiya is an architect with 30 years of experience spanning three continents. She is the senior living market sector leader at the design firm Hord Coplan Macht.
- Moderator: Bandana Shrestha is the state director of AARP Oregon.
Conversation: State Leaders Taking Action
- Susan DeMarois was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to serve as the director of the California Department of Aging. She is preparing the state for the year 2030, by which time 1 in 4 Californians will be age 60 or older.
- Justin Wayne was elected to the Nebraska State Senate in 2016. He introduced the state's "Municipal Density and Missing Middle Housing Act," which was adopted in 2020.
- Moderator: Todd Stubbendieck is the State Director of AARP Nebraska.
Day 2: Thursday, September 22
- Sara Bronin is a Mexican-American architect and attorney, Cornell University professor, founder of Desegregate Connecticut, creator of the National Zoning Atlas and the leader of a zoning overhaul in Hartford, Connecticut.
Plenary Panel: Housing Stability
Learn about efforts to increase housing stability, enhance the stock of affordable housing, and reduce evictions and homelessness.
- Diane Yentel is the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
- Liz Osborn is the vice president for public policy advocacy at Enterprise Community Partners. She has spent 15 years shaping policy and media strategy on Capitol Hill, in the executive branch of the federal government and in the international nonprofit sector.
- Moderator: Tina Tran is the state director for AARP Texas.
Plenary Panel: Housing Equity
A discussion about ensuring fair and equitable access to housing — and addressing the impact of past discriminatory housing practices.
- Nikitra Bailey is the executive vice president of public policy at the National Fair Housing Alliance.
- Bryan Greene is vice president of policy advocacy at the National Association of REALTORS.
- Moderator: Samar Jha is a director with AARP Government Affairs, where he specializes in state and local housing and livability policy.
Conversation: Local Leaders Taking Action
Mayors and local leaders are taking action to make historic investments in housing using funds from the "American Rescue Plan Act."
- Justin Bibb is the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. His vision is for Cleveland to become a national model for city management, police reform and neighborhood revitalization.
- Moderator: Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, AARP, has responsibility for driving AARP’s social mission on behalf of Americans 50-plus and their families. She leads the government affairs and legislative campaigns for AARP, widely seen as one of the nation's most powerful advocacy organizations.
Some workshop participants chose to join online breakout sessions to discuss the following topics with housing and livability experts.
ADUs Across America
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are small houses or apartments that exist on the same property lot as a primary, single-family residence. This conversation examined the importance of ADUs as part of the solution to the nation's affordable housing crisis and discussed policies that can incentivize the creation of ADUs in more communities.
- Kol Peterson, Casita Coalition (California)
- Gail Kohn, Office of the Deputy Mayor, Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C.
- Kay Sibetta, AARP Georgia
- Caitlin Hillyard, AARP Livable Communities
Multi-Disciplinary, Universal and Age-Friendly Design
Universal Design (often referred to as UD) is a framework that uses design techniques and products that enable a home to be accessible and livable for people of all ages and abilities. In this session UD experts shared how UD features are being implemented in housing policies and projects in communities nationwide.
- Richard Duncan, RL Mace Universal Design Institute
- Elicia Ratajczyk, Colorado State University’s Institute for the Built Environment
- Erica Wood, Arlington, Virginia, Commission on Aging
- Kelly McDonough, Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging
- Sarah Dale, AARP Livable Communities
Housing Diversity and Affordability in Your Community
All communities need housing that is accessible to different income levels, desires and needs. This conversation explored how communities are meeting housing needs within their cities, towns and regions.
- Sue Beck-Ferkiss, City of Fort Collins, Colorado
- Cathy Rowe, New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well
- Bill Armbruster, AARP Livable Communities
Cross-Sector Collaboration for Housing Solutions
Coalitions consisting of different organizations with similar goals can be extremely effective at getting work done, but they can also be difficult to manage and keep on message. This discussion examined how to harness the power of multi-sector coalitions to make positive housing sector change.
- Rachel Peller, Wisconsin Partners
- Kendra Knighten, Idaho Voices for Children and Idaho Asset Building Network
- Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island (New York)
- Bill Armbruster, AARP Livable Communities
More Than a Home: Housing Stability to Bring Community Stability
The housing market is extremely volatile, and lower-income residents are particularly vulnerable. Participants in this group talked about how stable housing has positive ripple effects for families and communities.
- Cassondra Warney, Corporation for Supportive Housing
- Andrea Pelto, Sparks Senior Citizens Advisory Committee (Nevada)
- Ashley Gurvitz, United Northeast CDC (Indiana)
- Mandla Moyo, AARP Livable Communities
Perspectives in Advancing Housing Policy Change
In this session housing advocates and municipal government representatives offered advice for how to navigate the complicated process of changing local policies in order to increase access to affordable, accessible housing.
- Ashleigh McGuire Dunsmoor, Fayette Alliance (Kentucky)
- Daniel Mckenna-Foster, Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska
- Amy DeVries, Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment (Indiana)
- Yvonne Martin, Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment (Indiana)
- Sarah Dale, AARP Livable Communities
Page updated October 2022
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Videos about several housing-related projects were aired during the workshop. Click on the titles below to learn more and see what was shown.
- What Is a Livable Community?
- What Makes a Home a Good 'Fit'?*
- ADUs: An Animated Tour*
- Housing Affordability in North Carolina
- ADU Education in Louisville, Kentucky
- ADUs for Families in Minneapolis
- An Accessible ADU in California
- 'Lifelong Housing' in Oregon
- Post-Disaster Housing in Oregon
- Rent Assistance in Philadelphia
- Legacy-Resident Retention in Atlanta
- 'Visitability' Welcomes Everyone*
- Workshop Innovation Showcases
* Scroll down the page to see the video
Free Housing Publications
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