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The proportion of people aged 65 and over is growing faster than any other age group, and there are considerable differences between the wealth, health and housing circumstances of older people in the UK. While the income of many pensioners has risen and a number of older home owners hold considerable assets in property, many older households are on low or restricted incomes, with more than one in five pensioners in the UK living below the poverty line. Over a third of older people also live in non-decent or hazardous housing conditions. As people age, ordinary tasks within the home can become more difficult. Over three quarters of a million people aged 65 and over in the UK need specially adapted accommodation because of a medical condition or disability and 145,000 of them report living in homes that do not meet their needs. For older people with relatively low incomes and increasing physical frailty, the challenge can be maintaining and heating their homes as well as continuing to live securely and safely.

It has been consistently shown that good housing conditions can help to sustain good physical and mental health. A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society has been in place in the UK since 2008, but little progress has been made by government in improving the housing conditions of the most vulnerable older people.

However, bottom-up solutions have been created by social housing providers, charitable organisations, social enterprises and older people themselves - and one of these solutions is co-living.  Our research for the Nationwide Foundation, an independent charitable foundation with a vision for everyone in the UK to have access to a decent home that they can afford, and the Nationwide Building Society, includes extensive interviews with stakeholders as well as qualitative research looking at three different models of older peoples' co-living.