Director, Livable Communities

Rodney Harrell, PhD, is Director of Livable Communities for the AARP Public Policy Institute. His expertise includes neighborhood choice, housing affordability and accessibility, transit-oriented development, community redevelopment, sustainable community initiatives and other livable communities issues.

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‘We Should Talk’: Cross-Sector Conversations on Livable Communities Show Great Promise

By Rodney Harrell and Stephanie K. Firestone The thousands of community planners who will come together this May at the American Planning Association’s (APA) National Planning Conference are increasingly aware of a demographic trend: Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population will be over age 65 by 2030. Translation: Planners need to get together with aging network professionals and talk! Why? Many aging network professionals are in the business of designing plans with individuals to help them to thrive in …

Redefining Home to Address the Future of Housing

by Rodney Harrell with Shannon Guzman and Dan Soliman   In 1961, AARP’s founder, Ethel Andrus, presented President Dwight Eisenhower with Freedom House. The scale model of a uniquely designed home contained what we would now call universal design features that allow people to stay in their homes as they age. Fifty-seven years later, we continue to implement that vision. This morning in Memphis, Walter Moody, a veteran who has faced a range of life challenges including housing instability, is …

The Future of Housing

In less than two decades, over 70 million Americans will be age 65 and older and they will represent approximately 20 percent of the population. Will we have affordable and accessible housing options that meet their needs? We already face challenges. Currently, high housing costs force millions of low-income older adults to sacrifice spending on other necessities. The vast majority of the nation’s housing lacks basic accessibility features such as a no-step entrance, wide hallways and doorways and other features …

What Is a Livable Community, and How Do We Measure One?

Older adults have a diverse range of preferences, needs and constraints. Income, caregiver/disability status, race and ethnicity, location and other personal factors all impact residents’ perspective on the features of their community. To advance our understanding of community livability, we held focus groups and fielded a nationwide survey to look at what older adults want and need in their communities. Their responses addressed many components of AARP’s official definition of a “livable community.” These include safety, affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, community …

Want to Influence Policy? Join AARP’s Advisory Council

AARP members with policy experience should consider applying for our all-volunteer National Policy Council (NPC), which serves as an advisory body to the AARP Board of Directors, which sets AARP policies. Becoming a member of the NPC requires more than policy expertise. Members attend NPC meetings in person at least four times in Washington or around the country. NPC members also participate in webinars and conference calls throughout the year and prepare for these by reading substantial amounts of information …

What’s Happened to Housing Affordability?

The National Association of Realtors announced earlier this year that its Housing Affordability Index shows 2012 was a record year for housing affordability.  Subsequently, articles appeared in the media with titles such as “Housing Today Is More Affordable Than at Any Time in History” and “2012 a Banner Year for Housing Affordability, Industry Group Says.” In addition, I’ve seen TV reports that continue to note how affordable housing has become. All of these are at odds with study findings presented …