Methods: Analyses were based upon survey data undertaken by an Area Agency on Aging in Alabama (in collaboration with the University of Alabama) of 278 community-dwelling older adults, aged 60 or older. Participants came from seven counties in Alabama; six of them being rural. Participants averaged 73.5 (SD=7.7) years of age, 32% were AA participants, 75.5% were female, and half lived alone. Outcome variables included answers to two dichotomous questions regarding the anticipation of using the Weatherization Service in the future and the anticipation of using public housing in the future. Logistic regression analyses were conducted.
Results: It was found that 29.4% of participants indicated they would consider using Weatherization Service and 17.4% would consider using Public Housing. AA older adults were more likely to anticipate future use of Weatherization Service (39.3% for AAs vs. 23.9% for Whites) (p<.01) and of Public Housing (24.7% for Blacks vs. 13.6% for Whites) (p< .05). For AAs, lower income adequacy and higher education level predicted their anticipated use of Weatherization, while the years living in current household predicted the anticipated use of Weatherization for Whites. For AAs, lower income adequacy and higher levels of perceived informal support predicted anticipated use of Public Housing, while female gender predicted anticipated Public Housing use for Whites.
Conclusions and Implications: Income inadequacy is a significant factor that leads AA older adults to seek governmental support to maintain their homes or move to public housing. Without a comprehensive federal housing policy for older adults, social workers and others need to ensure existing housing programs (such as Weatherization and Public Housing) are accessible to community dwelling older adults. This suggests that special efforts should target poor AA older adults, as well as While older women, and those living in older homes.