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Affordable Housing Initiative for Older Adults

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Pictured above on the left is Hal Bergsma, on the right is Jim Murphy

Two Tucson, Arizona Livable Communities volunteers, Jim Murphy and Hal Bergsma, have taken the lead as community partners in establishing the “Affordable Housing Initiative for Older Adults”.

The purpose of this Initiative is to provide context to the issues that exasperates older adult’s ability to secure affordable housing, especially for those of lower income. While it is acknowledged that any actions that improve or increase affordable housing in general might help older adults, most planning and affordable housing efforts do not look at the issue through an “older adult lens”. In response to the growing need for more affordable housing for older adults, with over 3,000 older adults on waiting lists for affordable, subsidized housing in Tucson and surrounding areas, we attempt to identify the barriers and best practices leading to more improved outcomes. While the Initiative uses data and issues more specific to Tucson and the Pima County, Arizona area, it is felt that they are somewhat generic in representing issues and recommendations are likely applicable on a national basis.

The mission was to develop an affordable housing initiative that prioritizes the needs of the community’s most vulnerable members – lower-income older adults and to create a model for community-wide collaboration. The goal of the initiative is to serve as a resource for communities, nonprofits, public and private development entities, and local jurisdictions interested in creating and supporting efforts to develop affordable housing options that meet the specific needs of older adults.

The Initiative provides concrete policy, tactical and partnership recommendations to reduce barriers for increased affordable housing options. Suggestions are made for immediate, local action that will bring together agencies to collect and share information on demographics, social and political trends, and best-practices in the affordable housing sector specifically impacting housing choice and opportunity for lower income older adults. It further recommends that advocacy efforts continue that support the timely distribution of information and represent the interest of older adults as described in this document.

Stewarding a Path Forward

The report identifies policy, practice, and partnership recommendations to reduce barriers to increased affordable housing options for older adults. Advocacy efforts should cultivate public, private and government support for policies that increase affordable housing options for this population. Timely distribution of information and data, including demographics, social and political trends, and best-practices specifically targeting affordable housing for lower income older adults is critical. Local efforts should be aligned and coordinated – ultimately private-public sector collaboration is vital for success.

A link to the complete Affordable Housing Initiative for Older Adults plan will be provided as it becomes available.

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