The Urbanist Musings of Pete Saunders

Gentrification’s Senior Partners


I’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks looking at gentrification from various angles, and like with a lot of topics I take on, it becomes an obsession.  My recent focus has been on how today’s urban-oriented and middle income young adults could, by virtue of their proximity to low income communities, act as a catalyst to expanded economic opportunities for low income residents, particularly minorities.  However, if young urban Millenials (now there’s an acronym for you, Yummies) are looking for a partner demographic that could help them establish the urban living style they desire, perhaps they should consider seniors as part of the puzzle.

The AARP’s Public Policy Institute released a report last month that explored community living preferences for older adults and seniors.  Two things stand out among older adults, and they have ramifications for young adult urbanists:

  • Most of the 50+ population want to age in their homes and communities.
  • The importance of proximity to community elements varies greatly.
The report goes on to discuss particular physical and non-physical amenities that are important to older adults.  Bus stops, grocery stores, parks and pharmacies lead the way on the physical side.  On the non-physical side, older adults say they would like to see several things of critical importance to young urbanists — a pedestrian-friendly environment and more transportation options.  

I acknowledge that not all parts of all major cities will not benefit from gentrification, nor should they.  I also acknowledge that many suburbs, already the home of many seniors who wish to stay exactly where they are, are also primed for a makeover that could make them more attractive to young adults as well.  Partnerships between young adults seeking a vibrant yet smaller-scaled urban environment, and older adults seeking a more pedestrian-oriented environment that serves their needs, might lead to the kind of transformation our suburbs need.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: