An abundant supply of service-enriched affordable housing will be needed to help a growing number of older, low-income adults remain in their communities and live independently. As discussed throughout this issue of Evidence Matters, many experts suggest that providing sufficient supports to allow older adults to age safely in place can reduce the need for costly institutionalized care (which often must be paid for by the government) and improve residents’ housing and quality of life. Although researchers have attempted to prove the efficacy of aging in place over the years, definitive evidence has been difficult and costly to obtain. A recently completed report prepared by the Lewin Group under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, with support from HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research, proposes a demonstration to answer this question and others that have eluded researchers.
The report outlines design options for the demonstration based on recent case study findings for exemplary programs that provide supportive housing to low-income older adults. The demonstration will determine whether publicly subsidized multiunit properties can serve as an effective platform for meeting the health and service needs of the low-income elderly, which of the models tested result in the best outcomes, and what services and supports maximize these positive outcomes. Core outcomes to be measured include the number of hospital and emergency room visits, number of falls, number of medications, presence of depression, community tenure, and quality of life. Although funding for the demonstration described in the report is still uncertain, HUD is optimistic.
The report will be available this winter at www.huduser.gov.
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