By Michael A. Spotts, President
Over the last 9 months, I joined Lisa Sturtevant and Spencer Shanholtz of George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis in studying senior housing needs in Montgomery County, MD. The result of this effort is the publication of Meeting the Housing Needs of Older Adults in Montgomery County, which we presented to the County's Planning Board on May 24. A summary of our key findings and recommendations can be found at the County's website.
As the number of older adults (both locally and nationwide) continues to rise, the demand for housing that serves this population will also rise. This includes senior living facilities (independent living, active adult units, assisted living, and nursing care facilities). However, one of the findings that particularly struck me was that more than 85% of older adults in Montgomery County live in housing units that are not age restricted. They live in homes that serve the general population, whether market-rate or affordable. As such, meeting older adults' housing needs requires a thoughtful general housing policy infrastructure, which can be complemented with targeted policies for households with additional needs. The same elements that improve affordability more broadly - adequate supply, diversity of housing types, mixed-use and walkable neighborhoods - will improve the likelihood of success for targeted interventions aimed at meeting older adults' unique needs.