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Area Agency on Aging Area Planning Advisor Council
© 2009 HCAAA
Advocate for adequate, affordable and accessible housing that promotes quality of life for seniors.
In June 2003, the Harris County Area Agency on Aging Area Planning Advisory Council Housing Subcommittee completed a policy paper called “A Look at Housing Our Elders” that evaluated housing for older adults in Houston and Harris County now and in the future. Much of the information was obtained through the 2000 U.S. Census. Some of that report is included here.
Between the years 1990 and 2000, the population of adults 65 years of age and older in Texas increased 20.7 percent. In Harris County, however, the increase was 27.6 percent. The number of persons over 85 years of age in the county increased 51.6 percent during the same 10-year period (U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Summary Files and Census 1990 Tape Files). In highly diverse Harris County, the Hispanic and Asian 65-plus populations are growing the fastest.
AARP has estimated that 90 percent of Americans want “to age in place” (AARP, 2003). As in other parts of the country, many seniors in Houston and Harris County desire to continue living in their own homes. Because of the rising costs in energy, utilities, health care, and prescription drugs, it has become very difficult for older adults to live independently with dignity and maintain an acceptable quality of life. Many have to choose between paying their rent or mortgage, or spending the money on other necessities. Thirty-five percent of seniors state that they forgo necessary medical treatments because of inadequate funds.
The Housing Work Group identified crucial issues that it believes must be addressed in the Houston–Harris County area to successfully meet the needs of the constantly increasing senior population. Members of the work group have worked diligently to promote the following activities: increased builder and developer awareness for affordable housing; increased awareness of consumer views (surveys); increases in newspaper articles and other media coverage on housing issues; increases in funding to support housing; increased awareness about renovations, retrofitting, and other architectural modifications, especially those undertaken with certified aging-in-place specialists (CAPS); creation of a more senior-friendly housing code; presentations of senior housing issues to and by city council and to and by county government; increases in senior-friendly facilities and communities; addition of the voice of a champion or champion group and an increase in the number of champions supporting senior housing issues; and supportive wraparound services located near to where seniors live in high concentrations. In addition, other issues of concern the group identified include the housing needs of special populations (including homeless persons, the disabled, and the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community) and the importance of recognizing and implementing new and creative housing options.