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Domain 3: Housing

Tools and resources for working within the "8 Domains of Livability" to create livable communities for the benefit of older adults and people of all ages

AARP surveys consistently find that older adults want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. Doing so is possible if a house is designed or modified for aging in place and if a community includes housing options for varying life stages (and varying bank accounts).

The following list of resources — from AARP and elsewhere — relate to Domain 4 of the "8 Domains of Livability." The content is categorized into three groups by level of difficulty, with the first group generally being the easiest reads for people new to this work and the third featuring deeper, data- and policy-heavy papers and reports.

Introductory and Easy-to-Use Resources

  • AARP HomeFit Guide
    An educational resource and personalized tool kit, the AARP HomeFit Guide provides lessons, suggestions and practical solutions for how to make a home comfortable, safe and a great fit for residents of all ages. (AARP)

  • Livable Communities: An Evaluation Guide
    Although this PDF-based, 162-page guide was produced in 2005, it contains still-useful survey techniques and data about how to determine the livability of a community and understand the needs of residents who want to remain independent in their homes and communities as they age. (AARP)

  • Livability Fact Sheet: Density
    The aging U.S. population and ongoing decline in the share of households with children is boosting the demand for smaller homes in more compact neighborhoods. The "Density" fact sheet can be used by policy makers, planners, land use officials, housing specialists, community leaders and citizen activists to educate themselves and others about how to smartly plan and build mixed-use neighborhoods and developments. (AARP and the WALC Institute)

  • Livability Fact Sheet: Economic Development
    A look at the many financial benefits for individuals, businesses and local governments of creating walkable, bike-friendly, livable and lively communities. (AARP and the WALC Institute)

  • Livability Fact Sheet: Form-Based Code
    By using the physical form rather than the separation of uses as an organizing principle, form-based codes offer a powerful alternative to conventional zoning. The fact sheet gives an analysis of form-based code benefits and strategies to revise a community’s map and zoning standards. (AARP and the WALC Institute)

  • Livability Fact Sheet: Revitalizing Without Displacement
    As communities are redeveloped to become more livable, the efforts risk displacing an area’s current, often longtime residents and businesses. Redevelopment efforts can benefit all residents, regardless of income or age. (AARP and the WALC Institute)

  • Location Affordability Portal: Understanding the Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation
    The federal Location Affordability Portal provides neighborhood-level estimates of household housing and transportation costs to help consumers, policymakers and developers make better informed decisions about where to live, work and invest. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)

  • 10 Principles for Creating Age-Friendly Communities
    Communities in the U.S. and abroad that don't prepare now for the world's increasingly aging population will soon find themselves struggling to catch up.Two experts from the AARP Public Policy Institute summarize the policies that AARP promotes to encourage the creation of communities that can "meet the needs of those age 5 or 105." (AARP)

  • What’s Happened to Housing Affordability?
    Rodney Harrell, Ph.D., a housing expert with the AARP Public Policy Institute, discusses the differing findings about housing affordability between studies conducted by AARP and by the National Association of Realtors. (AARP)

Tool Kits and Comprehensive Overviews

  • Expanding the Use of Universal Design and Visitability Features in Housing
    As people age and their physical abilities change, impediments caused by a home's design can make living independently a challenge. This AARP Public Policy Institute fact sheet explains how universal design and so-called "visitability" features can improve safety and the utility of housing for older adults and people with disabilities. (AARP)

  • Healthy Housing Laws that Works
    ChangeLab Solutions, a nonprofit that specializes in researching and drafting model laws and policies, developed this fact sheet to explain the different ways that local governments can enforce housing and property maintenance codes and to provide general information on the types of enforcement used by cities. (ChangeLab Solutions)

  • How to Develop a Home Modification Initiative: A Community Guidebook
    Prepared by the Indiana-based Center on Aging and Community, this guide provides information about the most common home-modification needs and how to effectively implement a community-focused home modification initiative. (Center on Aging and Community)

In-Depth Reports, Policy Papers and Analysis

  •  A Policymaker's Guide to Infill Development
    The way communities are planned and built has a major impact on the efficiency (or lack thereof) of our society, in terms of time, money and resources. This guide includes checklists for creating infill developments in order to make communities more livable and sustainable. (Local Government Commission)

  • AARP Inclusive Home Design Tool Kit
    This state-focused advocacy tool kit was created by AARP’s State Advocacy & Strategy Integration group to assist in changing what’s considered the norm for the design and construction of private residential housing and, writes AARP, "reflect the needs and capabilities of all potential users." (AARP)

  • Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices
    From the AARP Public Policy Institute, a look at how older adults can successfully age in place with the help of state policies related to land use, housing, transportation and home-based services.

  • Aging in Place: A Tool Kit for Local Governments
    Created by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the tool kit is based on three critical issue areas (health care, environment, planning and zoning) and emphasizes specific techniques for coordinating housing and health care supports to help older adults live independently in their homes and communities. (Atlanta Regional Commission/Community Housing Resource Center)

  • Building a Strategy: Create a Successful Housing Strategy and Tailor It to Your Community
    A comprehensive housing strategy moves beyond individual and disconnected housing policies toward an overall housing strategy that ensures a jurisdiction's policies are well-coordinated and well-tailored to meet its objectives. (

  • Building Healthy Places Tool Kit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment
    By making specific evidence-supported design and programming recommendations, the Urban Land Institute offers a resource and reference for shaping buildings and projects in ways that enhance and promote health. (Urban Land Institute)

  • Increasing Home Access: Designing for Visitability
    Visitabily as a movement seeks to increase the supply of accessible housing through the inclusion of three basic structural features at the time of home construction: a zero-step entrance, wide doorways and at least a half-bath on the main floor of the home. This paper examines and evaluates the effectiveness of visitability features for improving the prospects for people to age independently in one's home and community. (AARP)

  • From Vacancy to Vibrancy
    Many cities and towns are pursuing redevelopment of places that have struggled with blight and disinvestment for years. However, these redevelopment initiatives are frequently impeded by the presence of properties with known or suspected contamination issues, such as from abandoned gas stations and underground storage tanks. This guide seeks to help communities and their leaders mobilize the resources they need to clean up and reuse these sites. (Smart Growth America)

  • Preserving Affordability and Access in Livable Communities: Subsidized Housing Opportunities Near Transit and the 50+ Population
    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 authors highlight key planning and investment policies that government officials can support to secure greater opportunities for people to live near quality public transportation. (AARP)

  • Preserving, Protecting, and Expanding Affordable Housing
    This tool kit (from the aforementioned ChangeLab Solutions) provides strategies across six policy areas (preservation, protection, inclusion, revenue generation, incentives and property acquisition) to help ensure that households of all incomes can find suitable housing options in the areas they need or want reside. (ChangeLab Solutions)

  • Tool Kit for Developing and Operating Supportive Housing
    The term "supportive housing" refers to permanent, affordable housing that comes with support services and provides chronically homeless people with a way out of expensive emergency public services and back into their own homes and communities. The tool kit explains what permanent supportive housing is as well as how it's most effectively developed, financed and operated. (Corporation for Supportive Housing)

Published Summer 2015. Compiled by Katelyn Dwyer and Joseph Cheatham.

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