Planning for the Housing Needs of an Aging Population

Blog post by Institute for Housing Studies
December 2021

Institute for Housing Studies   (Chicago)

Substantive engagement with practitioners and issue-area stakeholders is the cornerstone of the Institute for Housing Studies' (IHS) applied research model. As part of a project funded by the RRF Foundation for Aging, IHS sought to better understand the housing and economic challenges facing older adults and develop data resources to enhance the capacity of local decision-makers. For this project, IHS tapped into the expertise of roughly 20 organizations serving older adult populations in Cook County. These organizations provided subject-matter expertise and local knowledge into the distinct nature of economic insecurity and housing needs of older adults in Cook County as well as current and prospective policy solutions to challenges facing Cook County’s older adults.

Our blog, Planning for the Housing Needs of an Aging Population, summarizes key takeaways and policy challenges from scoping conversations with IHS's community partners. Our partners reported that at the household level, older adults in Cook County face growing economic insecurity from low and fixed incomes, with particular housing affordability challenges for both older adult homeowners and renters. During interviews, stakeholders also reported that much of the existing housing stock in Cook County’s suburban and urban communities may not be equipped to meet the changing needs of older adults as they age. Lastly, stakeholders emphasized that communities of color will likely experience distinct housing and economic challenges, amplifying the need for a racial equity lens to examine current conditions, assess potential policy impacts, and inform targeted programs across the region.

These insights helped IHS identify key topics and data needs in Housing Needs and Economic Conditions of Cook County’s Older Adults, 2021, and design a report that both highlights relevant trends and patterns and can serve as the foundation for future analysis on issues facing the County’s older adults.