Skip to content

Free Publication: Discovering and Developing Missing Middle Housing

What it is. Where it went. And why it's a needed housing option for people of all ages

Front and back covers of Discovering and Developing Missing Middle Housing

A publication of AARP Livable Communities and Opticos Design

Download or order this free, 36-page, information- and photo-filled introductory guide.

Across the United States, there is a mismatch between the available housing stock and what the market wants and needs. The nation is mostly missing (and needs) a set of residential building types that exist in the middle of the continuum from detached single-family houses to large apartment buildings. 

Get the Guides

Order or download Discovering and Developing Missing Middle Housing:

Download Re-Legalizing Middle Housing: A Model Act and Guide to Statewide Legislation:

So-called "Missing Middle Housing" is a critical part of the solution. 

Such midsized, often moderately priced homes are referred to as missing because very few have been built in the U.S. since the early 1940s. The shortage is largely due to zoning constraints, the shift to car-centric patterns of development, and the challenges of financing multiunit dwellings.

That’s a problem, because the benefits of this largely missing housing type abound:

  • Missing Middle Housing types (also referred to as Middle Housing) provide the size and affordability options that people of all ages —  including older adults — very much need but often can’t find.

  • Since thedwellings are house-scale, the design and size of the buildings fit comfortably among detached single-family houses.

  • When a classic but too-large historic home is converted into a multiunit Missing Middle-style residence, the housing type can help preserve existing houses as well as an area’s look and feel.

  • The housing type can enable family members to live with or near one another while having their own space or residence.

Created by AARP Livable Communities and Opticos Design, Discovering and Developing Missing Middle Housing provides local leaders, building and planning professionals, and involved community members with information about what Missing Middle Housing is, where it still exists, and why it’s time for communities nationwide to return this versatile residence type to America’s housing portfolio.

Learn More

Updated October 2023

Stay Informed — For Free! See Past Issues

The weekly, award-winning AARP Livable Communities e-Newsletter provides local leaders with information and inspiration for making their town, city or neighborhood more livable for older adults and people of all agesSubscribe today!


  • 2023 Hermes Creative Awards: Platinum
  • 2023 dotCOMM Awards: Platinum
  • 2022 MarCom Awards: Platinum

Learn about the award programs

Our Free Publications!

See the complete list at

Follow Us

Contact Us

  • Email AARP Livable Communities at

  • Ask about the AARP Livability Index by completing this online form.

  • AARP Members: For questions about your benefits, AARP The Magazine or the AARP Bulletin, visit the AARP Contact Us page or call 1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277).