Panel Paper: The Home Maintenance Decisions of Older Adults

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 12:10 PM
Mayfair Court (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lauren Lambie-Hanson, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Jaclene Begley, New York University
Theory and literature suggest that, as they age, older homeowners under-maintain their homes. Neglecting maintenance may eventually have detrimental effects on households, as owners who fail to make necessary and important repairs may ultimately experience large and costly problems. Furthermore, neglected home maintenance and delayed capital improvements may have adverse spillover effects on neighborhoods. We believe Boston provides a useful case for studying patterns in home repair and improvements among older adults, particularly those with limited financial means. Our paper focuses on three main themes: first, we examine the participation and use of the Boston Senior Home Repair Program, which provides low cost loans and various other subsidies to qualifying older adult homeowners in Boston. Second, we examine neighborhood effects of the repair program, relying on local property complaints data as an indicator of neighborhood conditions. And third, we analyze how the variation in housing values prompted through the housing boom and subsequent housing crisis affected participation in this program.