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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

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. 

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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 homes provide the size and affordability options that people of all ages —  including older adults — very much need but often can’t find.

  • Since Missing Middle dwellings 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.

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Page published September 2022

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