Skip to content

Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population – 2009


A number of trends are forming in metropolitan areas, including the expected growth of the aging population, the increasing demand for city living, and a lack of affordable housing for low- and middle-income families and aging adults. These trends point to an increasing demand for preserving affordable housing near transit, a challenge that communities can address to increase their livability. This AARP study examines the availability of r affordable housing for low-income older adults near quality transportation and planning practices and strategies to create more livable communities.

Key Points

This study looked at the availability of affordable housing in 20 metropolitan areas in the United States and the location of this housing in relation to transit options. The methodology included by evaluating demographic data and social and economic trends, quantifying and mapping the number of federally subsidized affordable housing properties serving older people, and conducting interviews with older residents. Subsidized housing in close proximity to transit is at risk because as demand to live close to public transportation increases, land prices in these areas increases as well. Preserving affordable housing  and access to public transportation in metropolitan areas is important for creating compact livable communities for the aging population.

Other report highlights include:

  1. “A substantial number of affordable apartments (more than 250,000) are located within one-half mile of public transit in these 20 metropolitan areas (nearly 200,000 are within one-quarter mile), but more than two thirds of the federal subsidies that keep these apartments affordable will expire within the next five years.”
  2. While availability of transit in low-income, aging areas is important, ensuring that transit is safe, accessible, and useful is also essential.
  3. Transit-oriented development (TOD) integrates land use, transportation, and housing policies, in turn addressing challenges such as providing a walkable environment, increasing the viability and efficiency of the transportation system, providing a more affordable lifestyle, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Specifically for aging adults, TOD can make communities more livable by brining community features closer to homes.

How to Use

“As communities address the general shortage of affordable housing, preserving affordable housing in TODs is one of the challenges that communities can address to increase their livability.” This study highlighted key planning and investment policies government officials can support to secure greater opportunities for people to live affordably near quality public transportation. While some policy solutions require additional funding, others can be addressed through better planning: preserving existing affordable housing; integrating housing, transportation, and land use more effectively; and improving and investing in public transportation.

View full report: Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population – 2009 (PDF – 9.9 MB)

Stay Informed — For Free!

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 ages. Subscribe today!

AARP Livable Communities Newsletter