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New Report Examines Accessibility Features for Older Households in Subsidized Housing

Crystal Wojciechowski, PHADA Policy Analyst

The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University released a report entitled “Accessibility Features for Older Households in Subsidized Housing” in January 2020. The report aims to answer the following questions to determine whether the subsidized housing stock is suitable for aging in place:

  • What physical challenges do older subsidized renters face?
  • What difficulties do they experience with their housing environment?
  • Are subsidized units more equipped with accessibility features than units without rental assistance?

The report utilized the 2011 American Housing Survey, which includes detailed questions about housing accessibility and household mobility difficulties, to answer these questions. Specifically, the report compares the data between subsidized and unsubsidized low-income older adults to identify differences between the two groups.

Older adults make up a growing share of renter households subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report notes that “...the share of older adults in HUD-subsidized housing has risen five percentage points, and older adult households now make up over a third of all subsidized renters.” Further, as the general population continues to age, the number of very low-income older adult households that qualify for housing assistance will continue to rise. These same households often stay in subsidized housing longer than non-elderly and/or disabled families. All while funding for affordable housing continues to decrease.

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