Multigenerational housing refers to people of different generations, whether related or not, who live together. This can be in the same house or in close proximity in the same residential building or neighborhood. Ideally, multigenerational living situations provide opportunities for interaction and engagement across generations, rather than simply proximity. When multigenerational living is intentional, it is associated with better health outcomes, decreased loneliness among older adults, and better educational outcomes among children. It is also associated with lower poverty levels and can lead to cost-savings on items like rent and childcare.
Rates of multigenerational living have been increasing for decades, from a low in the 1980s. One reason is economic: During the Great Recession, there was a rapid increase in the number of multigenerational households. Likewise, young adults have been living longer with parents or other family members because of the high cost of housing. Demographics have also been an important driver. Boomers have created more demand for multigenerational living. Immigration has also helped drive the increase. Immigrants from Latin American and Asian countries are more likely to live in multigenerational housing than the population as a whole.
According to the American Community Survey, about 70 percent of U.S. multigenerational households are two-adult households. This is either a young adult and a parent, or an adult and an older parent. About one-quarter of multigenerational households include three or more generations. Communities of color are more likely than whites to live in multigenerational households. An estimated 31 percent of Hispanic households and 29 percent of African American households are multigenerational, compared with just 19 percent of white households.
The private sector plays an important role in building housing that can accommodate multiple generations and ensuring that safe financing options exist for this type of housing. Policymakers can reduce regulatory barriers to multigenerational living. For example, land-use and zoning restrictions can be changed to allow multigenerational housing to be built. For instance, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are separate units that are built on the same lot as an existing home. They can be attached or detached from the primary residence. ADUs can allow two generations to interact while continuing to preserve their own completely separate living areas. Some communities have put in place setbacks or other requirements that make it difficult or impossible to build ADUs. Removing these restrictions can help community members build appropriate intergenerational housing. Policymakers can also directly support intergenerational housing through grants, matching funds, loans, and other financial incentives.
MULTIGENERATIONAL LIVING: Policy
MULTIGENERATIONAL LIVING: Policy
Policymakers and the private sector should facilitate the creation of housing options and neighborhoods that encourage and effectively accommodate multiple generations living together.
Policymakers should do so through:
- land-use, zoning, and other regulations (see also Land Use and Zoning);
- direct grants and matching funds;
- incentive programs; and
- programmatic priorities.
The private sector should:
- create housing options that effectively accommodate multiple generations living together; and
- explore financing options for multigenerational housing that expand eligibility and include strong consumer protections (see also Mortgage Lending).