Julia Evans Starr, executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Aging
Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies recently released a report – Housing America’s Older Adults. It underscores that affordable, accessible, and well-located housing is central to basic well-being for people across the lifespan.
But making sure that there’s enough of that housing to meet the growing demand poses a significant challenge (and opportunity) in Connecticut, the seventh oldest state in the nation with the third longest-lived constituency.
The maps below illustrate the percentage of people age 65 and older in each municipality in Connecticut. As you can see, by 2025, older adults will comprise at least 20% of the population of almost every town in Connecticut. This represents a stark increase from the composition of Connecticut’s towns in 2010.
Many of the recommendations contained in the report are already underway in Connecticut. From promoting livability principles (through CoA’s Connecticut for Livable Communities, for example) to prioritizing policy and funding through Medicaid that honors choice for people to decide where they receive long-term services and supports to many other initiatives.
Clearly, communities need to invest in growing their stock of affordable housing (unfortunately, it’s often a controversial effort). Further, age-diverse communities and developments, rather than age-segregated solutions, are necessary to reflect the identified choice of baby boomers and Millennials alike and enhance quality of life.
Co-housing arrangements, including shared housing and accessory dwelling units, can enhance Connecticut’s plentiful single-family housing stock to promote aging in place and increase housing affordability.
Oh, and the housing needs to be accessible. Of note, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act 14-98 which authorized $6 million in bonding money to provide grants to older adults and persons with disabilities to make home modifications and purchase assistive technology so they can remain in their homes. It awaits approval of the Bonding Commission.
Through such forward-thinking public policies and action, Connecticut can meet this housing challenge and help people “age in place” in their communities.
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