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AARP’s Livability Index: Great Neighborhoods for All Ages A REALTOR® University Speaker Series Presentation by Dr. Rodney Harrell

How livable is your neighborhood? In a presentation in the REALTOR® University Speaker Series held recently, Dr. Rodney Harrell presented the AARP Livability Index, an index that seeks to measure the quality of living in neighborhoods across multiple dimensions. Dr. Harrell is Director, Livable Communities, AARP Policy Institute.

According to Dr. Harrell, a livable neighborhood is one that is safe, provides affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, has community features, and allows people to age in place.[1] Along this concept, the Livability Index assesses seven broad categories of community livability: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunity (see Chart). The index uses 60 indicators that score how livable a neighborhood is and how it might become more livable in the future.[2] For example, under the Housing category, the index looks at metrics such as the median housing cost, the percent of income spent on housing, the availability of subsidized housing, the percent of homes that have basic passage[3], and the availability of multi-family housing.

Dr. Harrell remarked that the Livability Index can be used not only by interested homebuyers and REALTORS® in assessing neighborhood livability, but by policy makers and county executives who are interested in framing policies that enhance the livability in their neighborhoods.

Dr. Harrell also discussed AARP’s  Future of Housing Initiative. This initiative seeks to highlight the need for housing options and designs that anticipate and meet the needs of the aging population. By 2030, about 70 million of the population will be 65 and above.

Want to know how livable is your neighborhood? Please click this link.

To listen to the Dr. Harrell’s presentation, please click this link.

About the SpeakerDr. Harrell joined the Public Policy Institute in March 2008 as a senior strategic policy advisor. Prior to joining AARP, he worked as a research and evaluation consultant, as a researcher and instructor for the University of Maryland, and as a Governor’s Fellow in the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development / Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.Dr. Harrell graduated summa cum laude from the honors program at Howard University, earned dual master’s degrees in public affairs and urban and regional planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and received a PhD in urban planning and design from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was a Wylie Fellow. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.About REALTOR® UniversityREALTOR® University provides on-line education on real estate and other topics at the MBA and undergraduate levels. The REALTOR® University Speaker Series provides a venue to learn about and stimulate discussion of economic and real estate issues in support of NAR’s mission as the Voice of Real Estate. The Speaker Series presentations can be accessed on this webpage.

[1] Dr. Rodney Harrell, “What is a Livable Community and How do we Measure One? “ at

[2] A neighborhood is defined as a census tract.

[3] Basic passage refers to a one zero-step entrance with wide passage (32 inches of clear passage space). A house is visitable if it meets one other criteria: having one bathroom on the main floor you can get into in a wheelchair.

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