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Due to socio-demographic changes, the number of elderly and vulnerable people in CE increases dramatically. At the same time these groups become increasingly diverse in terms of age, health conditions, financial possibilities, life-styles, consumption patterns and needs. While the overall life-span of elderly people increases, the need for intensive care of the individuals decreases as the health conditions are overall improving. Similarly, also with regard to vulnerable people – both younger and older persons - the primary aim nowadays is to give them as much control over their lives as possible to mitigate the circumstances that make them vulnerable.

These factors have considerable impacts on the housing and care needs of such population groups: more and more elderly and vulnerable people continue to live in their own flats/houses and want control their own futures and need support for active re-integration. When it comes to services and structures at disposal for the elderly and vulnerable people, however, it becomes evident, that central Europe is still characterized by rather paternalistic and centralistic approaches. This is the case with large housing estates and care structures from the 1960ies and 1970ies and even from later periods: These centralist structures have often difficulties in matching with the needs of such population groups. They tend to offer standardized solutions for supposedly homogenous needs. In territorial terms they may even favour the institutionalisation and the separation of such population groups from other residential areas and/or population groups. In functional terms they focus heavily on intensive care-provision while other needs (neighbourhood based contacts, cultural exchange etc.) are neglected.

In innovative responses to housing and health promotion, however, the immediate neighbourhood level plays an increasingly important role: it is the immediate housing neighbourhood, where elderly and vulnerable people expect to find social contacts, services, cultural facilities, etc. Neighbourhood-based care and housing solutions increase the autonomy and self-determination of these groups and contribute to maintain their abilities.

The topic is relevant to the whole CE cooperation area – and in particular for large and medium-sized urban areas which traditionally take over considerable shares of care and housing provision also for the hinterland. Innovativeness is sought in terms of “innovative” and decentralised housing and care solutions which have the clear potential to be transferred to other areas and to a bigger scale.