Older Hoosiers Need More Affordable Housing Options

Posted on 04/30/21 by Diana Lamirand

Vicki Small, 70, felt unbelievably lucky when she decided to move in with her daughter and 7-year-old grandson and was able to quickly find a house they could afford.

“There were three places we thought might be possible, but two were gone before we even had a chance to look at them,” she recalled.

Small, an AARP volunteer from Evansville, was thankful they were in a financial position to immediately snap up the third. She lives on the home’s lower level, which has a ramp with a separate entrance as well as a separate kitchen, a laundry area, a living room and a spare bedroom for her grandson to “visit” her on weekends.

“Especially during this time of coronavirus, the fact that I’m not isolated in my own home all by myself has been such a blessing,” she said.

But Small’s good fortune isn’t the norm. Affordable housing in the region—particularly in established neighborhoods close to city services—is hard to come by for many older Hoosiers. 

AARP Indiana is addressing the problem by making recommendations on affordable housing to Evansville and Vanderburgh County leaders as they update local zoning ordinances and by helping older residents make their homes safer to live in as they age.

Evansville’s housing supply is aging, and homes being built are “farther away from the center of the community, where a lot of folks still live and could use new, affordable housing,” said Addison Pollock, AARP Indiana’s director of community engagement.

AARP wants to see a greater diversity in housing types for people of all ages and incomes—from typical single-family homes to duplexes, triplexes, apartments, townhomes and mixed-use buildings that promote walkability and social connectedness.

Home safety improvements

The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Area Plan Commission (APC), along with city and county officials, will consider including AARP’s recommendations in the proposed land-use rule changes, said Blaine Oliver, APC’s assistant director. A draft will be posted at reasite.com under the name CommUnity2020 E/VC. Public meetings will be held before final adoption, expected by this fall.

The zoning updates may also make it easier to build accessory dwelling units (sometimes called granny flats or mother-in-law suites), which can be added to an existing property to allow an older adult to move in with a relative.

By promoting its HomeFit program, AARP Indiana is helping older adults who want to remain in their residences longer. AARP’s free HomeFit Guide offers suggested improvements to make living spaces safer and more comfortable as people age, such as entrance ramps, motion-sensor night-lights and bathroom grab bars. The guide includes a room-by-room checklist that can be used in any type of dwelling.

Go to aarp.org/homefit to download the guide or to order a copy by mail.

Earlier this year, AARP partnered with the Southwestern Indiana Regional Council on Aging (SWIRCA & More) for a Longevity at Home video series featuring tips for modifications, repairs and maintenance, decluttering and organizing; and information on home- and community-based services for older adults seeking to remain at home.

To view the series, select Videos at Facebook.com/AARPIndiana.

Diana Lamirand is a writer in Noblesville, Indiana.

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This story is provided by AARP Indiana. Visit the AARP Indiana page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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