The solution to ageing Britain’s housing crisis? Build almshouses

Architects and planners need to radically rethink housing policy for older people as the number of Britons over the age of 85 is set to nearly double in the next 25 years. The great issue for public policy now is to choose whether to regard the growing population of older people in the UK as a medical/custodial ‘problem’ or as a civic issue – how we keep older people integrated into the life of the community. This article looks at a new almshouse movement developing in the UK, which builds on a way of living dating back to the 10th century. Almshouses provide sheltered but independent housing, often around a central courtyard, at affordable rents. Many offer social activities, on-site maintenance and – crucially – links with external groups.