Residential Housing

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Residential housing provides room and food in exchange for pay for persons with physical, mental, or emotional conditions. These include the frail elderly, who are not able to live independently. Residential housing facilities are often referred to by the following terms: residential care facility, personal care home, domiciliary care facility, board and care home, adult foster care, adult family homes, or assisted living facilities.

Homes may be operated by for-profit or nonprofit corporations, by the government, or by sole proprietors. The number of residents can vary considerably, from one to several hundred. Funding for this type of care is usually private pay, with residents relying on Veteran's Administration contracts, SSI, Social Security, special state funds, or provider subsidies from a variety of sources.

These facilities have the capacity to deliver 24-hour care to residents, as needed. Typical available care includes room and board (meals), supervision or hands-on assistance with personal care needs, reminding residents to take their medications on time, laundry and housekeeping services, and social activities. Most states prohibit these facilities from providing nursing care services, including administration of topical or oral medications, except on a short-term basis as delivered by a visiting nurse.

There is no federal system of licensing or certification for these facilities. States and local jurisdictions generally share responsibility for their licensure; for example, local jurisdictions get involved with ensuring the safety of physical buildings for residents and workers.

Rachel Jean-Baptiste

Duncan Neuhauser

(see also: Regulations Affecting Housing )


Pynoos, J., and Golant, S. (1995). "Housing and Living Arrangements for the Elderly." In Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences, eds. R. H. Binstock and L. K. George. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.