Aging friendly in ADUs : lessons drawn from Austin and Los Angeles

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2023-04-14

Authors

Gonsoulin, Samuel Chase

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Abstract

This Professional Report explores the connection between Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and the housing aims of the age-friendly movement, seeking to appraise the efficacy of ADU adoption as a viable solution for the delivery of affordable housing for older persons in Austin, who are seeking to successfully age in place. This research reviews the existing ADU and relevant Senior Planning literature. Interviews with relevant professional actors in the City of Austin with insights into senior planning efforts and housing development in Austin are represented here. This report finds that ADUs face significant regulatory barriers that prevent them from being an easily adopted affordable housing solutions for seniors in Austin but can and should be an ongoing player in Austin’s larger affordable housing efforts. This report engages with the case study cities of Austin and Los Angeles, in the attempt to understand the status of their current Age-friendly plans, and to draw forth applicable lessons for ADU-related approaches. The secondary case study of Portland offers a positive example of ADU progress in the United States that is covered here as well. Lessons relevant to ADUs are connected to relevant senior planning documents, specifically the City of Austin’s “Age-Friendly Austin Action Plan,” and Los Angeles’ “Purposeful Aging Los Angeles: An Age-Friendly Initiative.” In pursuit of addressing the needs of elder populations with goals of aging in place, the housing typology of ADUs are compared with alternative affordable housing approaches. The recommendations indicated by this report reinforce the findings of the City of Austin audit titled “City Services for Older Adults.” Further recommendations are provided in support of a strategy tying ADUs and seniors together in Austin that may offer support for some seniors, before concluding with a broader recommendation in favor of statewide zoning reform. The recommendations include a call for increased staffing for Austin's Age-friendly efforts, improved data collection on senior service usage, and for further financing research to be conducted by city staff in pursuit of affordable housing solutions for seniors.

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