Addressing the Housing Needs of an Aging Population
(Housing and Community Development)
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Miami Lecture Hall (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Sewin Chan, New York University
Panel Chairs: Katherine O'Regan, New York University; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Discussants: Stephanie Moulton, The Ohio State University and Jaclene Begley, Ryerson University
Housing that meets the needs of older adults is becoming increasingly important as the U.S. population ages. Seniors express an overwhelming desire to remain in the community as they age rather than move to institutional long term care. Not only are there substantial financial savings for both households and the public sector, seniors derive emotional and health benefits from a sense of attachment and familiarity with home and neighborhood. This panel addresses several important challenges in addressing the non-institutional housing needs of an aging population.
First, the extent to which the existing residential housing stock can support the desire of seniors to age in place is a fundamental concern. To facilitate successful aging in place, homes should have accessibility features that enable people with mobility difficulties to live independent lives with a minimal amount of support, or they should at least have structural elements that permit accessibility modifications at a later date, when needed. Furthermore, the surrounding community should have walking and transportation options besides driving that allow access to a range of amenities such as health care and general retail services. The first paper in this panel uses the American Housing Survey to document the scarcity of such homes, and to investigate their distribution and changing occupancy.
Second, age is a major predictor of wheelchair use, and the experience of wheelchair users in the rental housing market is a critical concern. The second paper in this panel explores the challenge of obtaining this housing and presents results from an investigation of discrimination against wheelchair users, based on the paired-testing methodology. The paper reports the level of differential treatment in the willingness of agents to show homes to wheelchair users and to allow modifications that would make homes more accessible. The paper also includes estimates of the fraction of advertised rental housing that appears to be wheelchair accessible.
Third, research has shown that the substantial fraction of elderly who live with other family members are much more likely to continue living in the community, rather than move to assisted living or nursing homes. Knowing the factors that drive these living arrangements is thus crucial for addressing the housing needs of seniors. The third paper in this panel uses the Health and Retirement Study to examine transitions by seniors into intergenerational living arrangements. The paper explores the financial, health, and demographic factors associated with the initiation of these arrangements, and assesses their duration.
Taken together, these three papers will provide researchers, practitioners and policy makers with a greater understanding of the challenges that we face in housing an aging population.