ECHO housing was introduced in the United States in the 1980s based on a program started in Australia in 1975. An ECHO unit is a small house in which an elderly person resides and which is placed near the home of a host (either relatives or close friends of the elderly person). The purpose of this arrangement is to make it convenient and efficient for the occupants of the host family dwelling to provide assistance to the elderly person residing in the smaller ECHO house.
Although ECHO housing provides a means for keeping an elderly resident close to family and friends and may delay or eliminate the necessity of institutional care, administering an ECHO housing program is difficult. Issues surrounding design, quality, maintenance, and oversight vary depending on location and the key groups involved. Problems arise when ECHO units are no longer needed due to death of the resident or other family problems. Relocating units is difficult in terms of where to move them and how to move them without damage. The costs of moving the units add considerably to the overall costs that vary depending on a variety of factors. In addition, zoning is often a barrier that limits ECHO housing to large lots and rural areas.
- Older people – Housing; Small houses; United States. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
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