How Zoning Reform can Help Seniors ‘Age in Place’

Without more middle housing options, the United States will be short on ‘aging-ready’ homes.

1 minute read

November 8, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Elderly woman in pink shirt sitting at table on porch across from elderly man in white shirt. A pot of pink flowers sits on the table.

Iryna Dincer / Adobe Stock

With more Americans living longer than ever, the lack of infrastructure for ‘aging in place’ is becoming more glaring, writes Robbie Sequeira in Stateline. Single-family, car-dependent neighborhoods make it difficult for aging residents to stay in their homes and remain independent. “By prioritizing the construction of low-density development, such rules can disconnect older adults from their community and from crucial services such as transportation, according to the Urban Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on social and economic policy.”

According to Sequeira, “Recent census data suggests that the U.S. is short of aging-ready homes, with just 40% of the country’s housing considered accessible enough to meet the basic needs of older adults.” The AARP and other advocacy groups are calling on policymakers to boost the development of middle housing options and accessory dwelling units that are more accessible for older people on fixed incomes.

Affordability is also an issue for older Americans. “Among American adults age 65 and older, the poverty rate jumped from 10.7% in 2021 to 14.1% in 2022, according to a National Council on Aging analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.”

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