Nov 21, 2010

Multigeneraltional Living + Affordable Housing = Aging in Place

One of the successful ingredients to Aging-in-Place is housing affordability and the flexibility of one's family and/or community, to adapt to changing needs as one ages.
Multigenerational dwellings were enacted by the state legislature in 1981 (Act 229). “Ohana Dwellings” as they are commonly known, was coined by then Honolulu Mayor Eileen Anderson. Initially, there was no restriction that occupancy be limited to “ohana”. The statute only required that counties allow two dwelling units by right, on any residential property that had adequate public facilities (ie. sewer, water, roads)[1].
The 1981 enabling legislation linked the importance of Multigenerational Living and Housing Affordability – a concept we now call Aging-in-Place:[2]
“The legislature recognizes that the spiraling costs of housing, the limited availability of land for housing, and the failure of wages to keep pace with inflation, contribute to the inability of many families to purchase their own homes.
The legislature also recognizes the resulting trend of children living in their parents’ homes even after reaching adulthood and after marriage. This trend has positive and negative aspects. The situation is negative when it is forced upon persons because there is scarcity of affordable homes. The trend can be positive, however, because it helps preserve the unity of the extended family.
The purpose of this Act is to assist families to purchase affordable individual living quarters and, at the same time, to encourage the preservation of the extended family.”

[1] Honolulu Department of Planning & Permitting report dated 11/3/05: http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-39468/0zsj5mdc.pdf
[2] Legislative Reference Bureau: Ohana Zoning: A 5-Year Review (1988): http://lrbhawaii.info/lrbrpts/88/88ohana.pdf