A recent report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies found that housing units receiving HUD subsidies were more accessible for older people and those with mobility difficulties compared to unsubsidized units occupied by low-income renters. A significant proportion of households served through HUD-assisted housing are older adults for whom accessibility is essential for successful independent living. As of 2018, older adults aged 62 or older made up 27 percent of households in the HCV program, 33 percent in public housing, and 49 percent in project-based Section 8.
When comparing accessibility features among subsidized and unsubsidized units, subsidized units were more likely to have accessibility features. Accommodations such as single-floor living and no-step building entrances were more common in subsidized units, but particularly in project-based Section 8 units. Despite the presence of many such features, only 40 percent of subsidized units were close to accessible livability, which is defined as having all accessibility features. Wheelchair accessible bathrooms was the most commonly missing accessible feature across unit types.
As the number of low-income seniors eligible for housing assistance increases, accessibility features within subsidized units will become even more important to ensure that older adults can access affordable housing that meets their daily needs. Read the report on the JCHS website.