April is Fair Housing Month and this year’s theme is about choices for all voices. As I reflect on what that means to me, and my work, I am struck by the word “choice.
Older adults often have limited choices when facing the challenges of aging in place, a term often used when decisions about where and how we want to live arise. A recent AARP survey reports that eight out of 10 older adults want to age in the house they are currently living in.
The federal Fair Housing Act was signed into law 55 years ago and has been one of the most important laws in American history. Fair housing refers to the principle that all individuals have access to housing opportunities regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, a familial status, or disability. But something is missing – age.
Many years ago, when I started my business, The Senior Strategist, I wanted to focus on older adults and aging-in-place. Through research by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, we know most U.S. homes are not accessible for older people with limited mobility. I wanted to do my part to change that.
Two years I came across found SALSA (Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio), an initiative of the San Antonio Area Foundation. I joined SALSA’s housing workgroup and I felt instantly connected to people who believe that neighborhoods and housing across Bexar County should be safe, affordable and accessible for older adults, at all income and ability levels resulting in successful aging in place. As a Realtor and Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), I was welcomed to the group.
It is exhilarating to be among individuals who share similar views and are enthusiastic about supporting older adults in a collaborative effort to promote aging-in-place and improve housing options for people 60+ in the San Antonio area. One of the goals of the SALSA initiative is to promote and build awareness of planning for aging-in-place. Our strategies include:
Increasing the supply of affordable and accessible housing. The workgroup is working to increase the supply of affordable and accessible housing options that meet the unique needs and preferences of older adults. This includes advocating for policies and incentives encouraging developers to build more accessible housing options:
- The workgroup recognizes that many people want to age-in-place but may need home modifications to make their homes safer and more accessible. The workgroup has developed an Aging In Place presentation to share with San Antonians who are interested in the many items, services, programs and supports available.
- Improving access to supportive services to help them age-in-place successfully. This includes access to healthcare, transportation and social services. The workgroup is working to improve access to these services by advocating for policies and programs that support needs of older adults.
Let’s use our voices to ensure that San Antonio is the place where everyone, regardless of age or ability, are respected, thrive and enjoy connected lives.