Older adults experiencing housing insecurity: An environmental assessment of housing

October 23, 2021

Gurung, S., Elkes, S., Mahmood, A., Weldrick, R., Lemme, H., Qureshi, M., Canham, S. (2021). Older adults experiencing housing insecurity: An environmental assessment of housing. [paper presentation]. Canadian Association on Gerontology 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting. Virtual.


As part of a multi-year, multi-city partnership project the Aging in the Right Place Environmental Audit (AIRP-ENV) and Secondary Observation (AIRP-ENV-SO) tools were created to facilitate observation-based audit of the built environment, particularly in shelters, transitional housing, independent housing with offsite/onsite supports, and permanent supportive housing with onsite medical and/or specialized services for older adults who are experiencing or vulnerable to experiencing homelessness. Data were collected at four sites of a transitional housing program in Vancouver, Canada. The presence/absence of exterior and interior built environmental characteristics that promote housing stability were audited using the 241-item AIRP-ENV tool. Contextual data on function, safety, and land-use of surrounding neighbourhood were collected using seven open-ended questions in the AIRP-ENV-SO tool. Preliminary findings suggest that built environment and urban design features support tenants’ residential resiliency and aging in place. Data from the environmental audit demonstrates that study sites are in close proximity to accessible resources, there are opportunities for tenants to engage in social activities, the buildings are equipped with accessible interior and exterior features, built environmental features are implemented to foster safety and security, and furnishing and accessible features of the room support the tenants in continuing to live independently. The AIRP-ENV and AIRP-ENV-SO tools provide insight on the built-environmental features of housing and neighbourhoods that contribute towards the aging in the right place. Additionally, these tools address a gap in audit tools by considering transitional housing and other settings where older persons experiencing homelessness seek to age in place.