“Philadelphia is a growing city, undergoing a sweeping transition, most evident in the age and diversity of those who live there.” – Pew Charitable Trusts, 2019
To address the aging of our population and to create a welcoming, inclusive community, we engaged the Livable Communities Network, including residents of all ages, and worked with a variety of organizations to develop our vision for our city—Philadelphia: An Age-Friendly, Livable City for All.
Defining an age-friendly, livable city
An age-friendly, livable community is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, offers supportive community features and services for residents of all ages, and promotes physical and psychological well-being of residents. It is a place where people can live their entire lives, if they so desire.
Livable Communities, the guiding principle of an age-friendly society, focuses on designing places that promote good health, strong civic participation, and clear communication. That means safe, walkable streets; affordable housing and accessible transportation options; and opportunities to be socially engaged. It means sustaining economic growth and enabling healthier residents to pursue happiness.
Our research and process
The efforts of the Livable Communities Network involved a multi-phased, multi-generational process to assess Philadelphia’s age-friendliness, beginning with a report submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO), which highlighted some of our age-friendly features and areas that need improvement.
We then conducted an initial community assessment to examine Philadelphians’ views on the eight “domains of livability” identified by the WHO. We gathered this data through AARP’s Age-Friendly Community Survey, completed by more than 1,100 residents aged 45+, and four multi-generational focus groups. We then led five community conversations for additional input about these issues.
Based on this research and the city’s priorities, we decided to focus on three areas: housing, transportation, and outdoor spaces and buildings.
Philadelphia: An Age-Friendly, Livable City for All is a vision focused on the changing landscape and needs in housing, transportation, and outdoor spaces and buildings. In collaboration with residents, community partners, and the City of Philadelphia, this action plan includes recommendations that advise local leaders on the tangible, community-wide improvements needed to enhance the well-being of city residents.
- Expand the number of affordable housing units, particularly for older adults and people with disabilities.
- Ensure that public transportation is safe, affordable, and accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
- Ensure that parks and trails are accessible to people of all ages and abilities and have adequate amenities.
As we find ourselves spending more time in our homes and local communities, we must find the space, services, and opportunities that people of all ages need to thrive. We must rethink how communities support people of all ages and abilities as they seek to live healthy, productive, and civically engaged lives.