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The AARP CA Listening Report: Rebuilding the Social Compact on Housing for All Californians


In 2020, AARP California engaged practitioners and subject matter experts to better understand the impediments and solutions to California’s housing crisis, as well as where AARP can position its resources and support to effect change. This effort included convening interviews with key stakeholders, such as mayors and legislators, and listening sessions with groups from diverse housing related disciplines. The research culminated in The AARP CA Listening Report: Rebuilding the Social Compact on Housing for All Californians.


The experts we engaged through this process laid out a challenge and an opportunity particular to AARP – rebuild the “social compact” between the young and the old to advance affordable and supportive housing in California. While there is a need for housing for people of all ages, the advocates and experts we spoke to believe there is a significant breakdown in the “compact” as it relates to older adults. The social compact refers to an implicit agreement between generations to share resources and to support one another across phases of life. For example, Social Security is based on a social compact – those who are working now support those who can no longer work. In California, there is a growing concern that the social compact around housing is broken, and to be addressed successfully we must engage this work strategically, as the report details.

"AARP was founded on the simple premise that no one should have to live in a chicken coop. The shocking discovery of a distinguished former teacher in Los Angeles, California living in poverty in a chicken coop inspired our founder to organize the National Retired Teachers’ Association and subsequently AARP and devote the rest of her years to improving the quality of life for all as they age."

The Unlikely Birthplace of AARP & Our Housing Work

"At AARP we believe that EVERYONE NEEDS A HOME, which is why we continue to advocate for housing that is accessible, affordable, safe and secure." - Nancy McPherson, AARP California State Director

Older adults particularly experience a range of housing problems resulting from high housing costs, inaccessible home design features, disrepair and more. These problems can reduce physical safety, increase isolation, and prevent people from aging in their homes and communities.

By 2030, one in every three Californians will be over the age of 50, and the proportion of those over 65 will have increased to 17 percent from 11 percent in 1998. As a result, demand for more housing that is suitable for older adults is expected to increase.

As part of an international campaign to help communities prepare for rapidly aging populations and the parallel trend of urbanization, in 2006 AARP launched the Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Network. Currently, there are over 50 California communities enrolled in AARP’s network, representing over half of the state’s population, who have made the commitment to improve livability for people of all ages. As a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, community leaders commit to identifying the challenges of its aging population and identifying policy and programmatic solutions that will improve the quality of life for all ages in the community. As expected, housing is a constant issue brought up by residents during this process. Member communities continue to hear from older residents that although they may own their home, their children or grandchildren cannot afford to purchase a home in California and they are therefore losing their support networks as their younger family members leave the state.

Californians need accessible, affordable, and integrated multi-generational housing options. It is critical to promoting independence and allows people to age successfully in their existing communities. That is why, at AARP we believe a livable community is one that contains a range of housing options. This ensures that residents of all ages, backgrounds, income levels, and ability levels can find housing that meets their needs.

In 2021, AARP California looks forward to advancing the narrative that everyone needs a home, mobilizing our 3.3 million members statewide, and supporting new innovative policies and ideas to help create a California that is more livable for ALL.


  • Housing Videos HERE
  • Housing Publications HERE
  • Making Room: Housing for a Changing America Report & Resources HERE
  • Missing Middle Housing Resources HERE
  • AARP’s Road Maps to Livability HERE
  • The Livability Index HERE

For questions about the report please contact AARP California housing campaign leads Fred Buzo at or Rafi Nazarians at

About AARP California
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