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Health-Related Needs Assessment of Older Residents in Subsidized Housing


Aging in Place

Volume 12 Number 2

Health-Related Needs Assessment of Older Residents in Subsidized Housing

Victoria Cotrell
Paula C. Carder

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


When a nonprofit organization with nursing-home and assisted-living experience purchased a 30-year-old highrise apartment building in downtown Portland, Oregon, the new owners were faced with how to manage a building that provided housing to more than 200 older residents whom they knew very little about. As long-term care providers, they knew that older people were at risk for developing chronic illnesses, disabilities, and other factors that could result in moves to nursing homes, hospitalizations, and early death. They also knew that older adults in subsidized housing, such as this Section 8 building, have higher levels of disability than their age cohorts in unsubsidized housing and apartment rentals (Redfoot and Kochera, 2004). What they did not know was whether and in what ways these residents’ independence and quality of life might be jeopardized by unmet health and social service needs. In collaboration with the Portland State University School of Social Work, a multidimensional needs assessment was developed and conducted to identify the most important unmet needs of the residents as a group so that targeted services could be planned. Findings based on interviews with 130 residents revealed a heterogeneous population of older adults whose health status varied considerably, especially among the four different ethnic and language groups living in the building. This article describes how the results of such an assessment can be used to plan for enriching services to those most in need.

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