Older people’s access to housing and to urban life
The ultimate goal of the comparative project is to propose options and requirements for the public policy of the cities as well as actors on the housing market to support and enhance age-friendly urban environments.
The project locates itself within the vision of age-friendly or ageing-friendly cities. It has social, spatial and economic implications.
In the context of an ageing population, growing life expectancy and with it a larger share of very old persons, questions of access to housing, services and public spaces present growing challenges to many cities. The vision of age-friendly cities and ageing in place (allowing older person to stay as long as desired and possible in their familiar home environment) is facilitated by processes of digitalisation, individualisation of life-styles, urban regeneration, new housing arrangements, a variety of services and so forth. At the same time, it is partly the same factors such as urban growth and regeneration, limited availability of appropriate housing, physical and social barriers in terms of access to public spaces and services, mobility of families and changing family patterns that contribute to reducing the quality of life of older and very old persons. These potentially increase isolation and loneliness in that life period.
Considering the actual demographic development, the share of older people in our countries will increase considerably in the next 20 to 30 years. In Switzerland the number of people who are older than 65 years will grow from 1.5 Mio in 2015 to 2.2 Mio in 2030 to 2.7 Mio in 2045; FSO Federal Statistical Office). In the city of Zurich until 2033 the number of persons who are older than 65 years is expected to grow by 43% until 2033, and the number of seniors over 80 year will increase by 29%] . In the suburban communities surrounding Zurich, this development will be even more accentuated.
Given these developments, policies for healthy ageing and ageing in place will become more important. Our cities and societies as a whole will face a multitude of challenges: The incidence of chronic and age-related conditions such as dementia will increase considerably. Yet, with the restructuring of retirement provision systems, migration, changes in the labour market, the average wealth of future older generations is likely to decrease considerably. For healthy ageing, the participation in urban life and meaningful activities is fundamental. Particularly, if ageing in one's own living environment is to be supported for psychological, social and economic reasons, appropriate housing options and public urban spaces are needed, which offer a variety of barrier-free, attractive and no/low-cost indoor and outdoor opportunities for social interactions.
Ongoing processes of urban regeneration, migration, and the trend for families and higher earners to live in city centres are leading to low vacancy rates and a decrease in affordable housing in growing cities like Stockholm and Zurich. Access to the tight housing market is considerably facilitated by financial resources, informal networks and the usage of internet and new communication technologies. Especially older people often have a reduced income after retirement, and they sometimes face difficulties handling digital devices or keeping up with the speed of the housing market. The search for suitable accommodation or home financing (mortgages) becomes very difficult. Furthermore, in many locations and facilities, barrier free access for less mobile older (and younger) people is not available.
2018 bis 2020