Thinking Outside the Box: Seniors Inspire Innovative Housing

On March 28, the Workforce Housing Committee welcomed several community speakers, addressing housing related to a rapidly growing segment of Orange County’s population, seniors. Currently, adults over 50 make up nearly a third of the county’s population, and will continue to grow over the next several decades. As noted in OCBC’s 2011 Workforce Indicators Report, this is a trend termed the “Senior Tsunami.” During the next several decades Orange County’s 55+ age cohorts are expected to grow rapidly, while younger age groups will decline as a proportion of Orange County’s population. That growth will impact the workforce, but will also require adequate housing to allow seniors to remain in their communities and sustain a satisfactory quality of life.

Dan Kelly, Rancho Mission Viejo, shared details of the updated Mission Viejo Ranch Plan, which will serve as Orange County’s last big development with 14,000 homes planned, the first of which will be for sale summer 2013.

The first phase will include assorted housing stock and supportive commercial development, and eventually will include 6,000 new homes exclusively for “active adults” aged 55 and older.

Jeff Roos, with Lennar Homes, shared details about the revolutionary new floorplan providing for multi-generational living.  Called “the home within a home”, the new model tucks a fully designed “one-bedroom home” within the existing floorplan. With its own entrance, kitchen and living area, the plan allows for privacy of occupants, but also ease of access for care of others in the home. The unit has multiple options providing families with a cost-effective alternative to caring for older parents instead of using a care facility, or for live-in caregivers or nannies.

As the population ages, “Boomers” will dominate changes in housing until 2030.Debbie Dalton, Associate State Director of AARP, provided a review of “aging in place” designs that can expand the availability of suitable housing to accommodate senior needs. For more information contact Kate Klimow, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs.

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