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Multigenerational Planning – 2011


A decade ago, 46 percent (5.8 million) of grandparents in the U.S. lived with their grandchildren. By 2010, 51 percent of all grandparents were living in multigenerational households. Planning livable communities has to incorporate the needs of all ages. This briefing paper organized by the American Planning Association asserts that planners can be more intentional in planning for multigenerational households by incorporating coalition building, civic participation, smart growth and universal design principles.

Key Points

People of all ages share common needs including safe and walkable neighbor¬hoods, a varietyof service options, opportunities for civic engagement, affordable and mixed-use housing, and adequate transportation choices. By planning for older residents, the planner can help all residents.

Other briefing paper highlights include:

  1. The need for collaboration across all generations will be critical for planners to find new solutions for multigenerational needs. Older people do not want to live separately from younger people. “Planners need to craft a common vision that rec¬ognizes the interdependence of the generations.” Examples of effective collaboration in planning include planning initiatives in Huntington Beach, Denver, Illinois and Ithaca, New York.
  2. Strategies for increasing public participation in civic engagement include a futures workshop model, solutions for parks planning (case study citedfrom Hawaii), and civic engagement by all generations (case study cited from Charlottesville, VA).
  3. Building for older residents means one can embrace all residents. There are two ways to do so. The first is by using smart growth principles in planning. This includes planning for activity (bike lanes, position of libraries, schools, shops, etc.), increasing connectivity through affordable transit options, and increasing safety.
  4. Universal design (UD) creates universal access. The paper specifically emphasizes visitability principles as important for access, which means that buildings are accessible by all (including those with disabilities).

How to Use

Planners should consider how to plan communities where people of all generations are respected, served and connected. This paper provides ways to begin changing the mindsets of planners and partners to achieve livability in their own areas.

View full report: Multigenerational Planning (2011) (PDF – 368 KB)

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