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Monday, June 9, 2014

The "Boom" in Golden Girls-Style Shared Housing: Where’s the Beef?


NBC, Touchstone Television and their partners should be proud– it has been 22 years since the final episode aired, yet the influence of The Golden Girls means that every year reporters ask about the boom in “Golden Girls Housing.”  This form of shared housing receives a great amount of attention, but we'll miss the big picture if we look for big numbers.

For the last few years, I have looked at data from the Current Population Survey (analyzed by the AARP Public Policy Institute) to count households that are all female (or all male) with at least one non-related housemate or roommate, no spouses, and no one under 50 in the home. This is the classic “Golden Girls” formula.  

The result has become familiar: a very small portion of the population lives in a “golden” situation, around one percent.  The small numbers of people in those situations means that it’s hard to figure out whether it has become more popular.  Though the percentage appears to be holding steady, the number of golden households has grown due to population growth – we estimate that in 2000 there were about 780,000 persons in golden households and by 2013 that had grown to 1 million. (There are over 104 million persons age 50 or older.)  It’s entirely possible that people are seeing more of these households as time marches on, but it’s not quite a “boom” yet.

The focus on the rise of golden households may be misplaced – the question may not be about the number of people currently in these households, but the potential of shared housing to meet the housing needs of a growing group of people. Shared housing is one of the range of options that can help people address the fact that their homes and communities may not work well for them as they age.

Friday, April 25, 2014

What Is a Livable Community, and How Do We Measure One?

Today, I kicked off AARP Public Policy Institute's Livability Index project with a blog and two papers on new project webpage: bi.tly/LivIndex.  The PPI blog, "What Is a Livable Community, and How Do We Measure One?" introduces the project to the world.

You may have wondered why I haven't been writing as much lately, and this project is what has been keeping me busy recently. In a way, this has been keeping me busy for years.

AARP's Media Release for "What Is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults"

The AARP media release for one of my most recent reports, "What is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults": 


April 25, 2014            
                                                                                          
Media Contact:
Nancy Thompson
(202) 434-2506


NEW AARP REPORT OUTLINES WHAT OLDER AMERICANS WANT IN THEIR COMMUNITIES, HOW MANY ARE THINKING OF MOVING

Washington, D.C. – The vast majority of people age 50 and older plan to remain living independently in their communities, a new report from the AARP Public PolicyInstitute concludes.  The report which surveyed boomers and older adults found that both value secure neighborhoods, safety, good schools, safe streets for walking, access to transportation, parks and affordable housing as community qualities. With these resources in place, communities enhance personal independence and foster resident engagement in community civic, economic and social life, qualities that AARP has traditionally used to describe the livability of a community.  Most importantly, these resources allow residents to age in place successfully.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Reflections on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

On its face, Martin Luther King Day is a holiday dedicated to the memory of one of the key figures in American history. Recently, it has become popular as a "National Day of Service" and an opportunity to give back to the community. For me, its greatest significance is as a day to reflect on the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and how America has changed (and not changed) since Martin Luther King, Jr's time.

The King Memorial in Washington, DC 
As I referenced in an earlier post on the anniversary of the March on Washington, King's "March to Freedom" began with the Emancipation Proclamation 151 years ago during the midst of the Civil War.  Some may say the movement ended at one of several key moments: the passage of the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago, The Voting Rights Act the next year, the creation of the Martin Luther King Day holiday or the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States.

Culturally, Doug Williams' accolades as the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and Tony Dungy as the first head coach of color to win the Super Bowl were both heralded as key barrier-breaking moments. The end could be when Oprah Winfrey became a billionaire or the moment that hip-hop culture achieved crossover status or one of many other moments. A quick google search will find over 100 million online articles for "post-racial America," with the vast majority dating created since Obama's nomination as the Democratic candidate in 2008.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tales from a Condominium Association: Rising fees, the Budget Squeeze and 5 Pieces of Advice

I recently had a conversation with  of the Washington Post as part of her research for "Rising community association fees are squeezing homeowners on tight budgets," the main Metro  section article in Sunday's Washington Post.  I was pleasantly surprised to have this conversation: the article notes that over 63 million are residents in community associations, and relatively little attention has been paid to how they work.
Screenshot of article on washingtonpost.com

Rising fees can be problematic for many residents - here's the excerpt that came from our conversation:
In the past four decades, the number of condominiums, co-op units and houses that are part of homeowners associations has skyrocketed across the nation, from 701,000 in 1970 to 25.9 million in 2012, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research.
The foundation does not categorize ownership by age, but an analysis by AARP’s Public Policy Institute in 2003 found that 46 percent of owners in single-family homeowners associations were older than 50, as were 56 percent of condo and co-op owners.
For homeowners who are retirees or who plan to retire soon, the fee hikes can be particularly onerous, said Rodney Harrell, a senior adviser at the institute. 
Adding to the burden, the number of homeowners 50 and older who own their homes free and clear fell between 2000 and 2009, according to an institute report. And in the lowest income group of people 65 and older without mortgages, 58 percent of them were spending at least a third of their income on housing.