Renovating Space to Age in Place: Experiences of Elderly Residents Living through Public Housing Renovations and Reflections from Affordable Housing Developers


In this article, we explore the experiences of older adults living in public housing undergoing renovations and its associated impacts on their perceived sense of well-being. We also consider the ways in which affordable housing developers contemplate residents’ health and wellness into renovation plans and processes. Following the conventions of hermeneutic analysis, we conducted open-ended in-depth interviews with older adults living in public housing undergoing renovations (n = 21) and representatives of a variety of affordable housing developers (n = 12). Our analysis demonstrates that residents had strong attachments to their individual living spaces prior to renovations and were fiercely protective of them. Renovations created a sense of unease among older residents as the familiar features of their homes were altered. The processes and the outcomes of renovations and new management strategies raised fears that their lived environments were becoming institutionalized. Developers acknowledged that a tension exists between residents’ desires for personalized private space, and their responsibilities as landlords to prioritize the physical safety of residents and the fiduciary obligations to maintain building longevity.

Last updated on 11/16/2023