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New Report Points to Dramatic Shortages in Senior Housing

Posted: April 26, 2012

 A new report by the Center for Housing Policy titled “Housing an Aging Population” puts facts to the instincts all of us working on senior issues have—we know we are not adequately preparing for the demographic tsunami. It presents a moral crisis for this country as it demonstrates that we will leave our elders without decent places to live.  The report documents: 

 By 2050, the population of individuals aged 65 or older will increase 120 percent from 40 million to more than 88 million; put another way, one in every five Americans will be 65+. The numbers of Americans aged 85 or older will more than triple over the same period to 19 million.

  • Demand for housing will shift dramatically and the need for services to help older adults age in place will grow exponentially. Older adults are more likely than younger adults to spend more than half their income on housing.
  • Cost burdens also increase with age. One in four households 85+ pay at least half their income for housing, as compared with about one in five households aged 65–74 and about one in six households younger than 65.
  • The incomes of older adults tend to decline with age — as reflected in rising poverty rates.
  • Thanks to changes in lifestyle and technology, both men and women are living longer. It also means more older adults will be living with disabilities. While about one-quarter of older households aged 65-74 include someone with a disability, the proportion climbs to nearly two-thirds among households with a member 85+.
  • Housing challenges are particularly severe for older adults with very low incomes, nearly half of whom spend 50 percent or more of their income for housing. Another one in four spend 31 to 50 percent of their income. Only about 24 percent of renters of all ages with housing needs are being reached by federal rental assistance.

In sum, the number of older adults is rising but the available federal funding for housing subsidies is not keeping pace with demand. It’s to everyone’s advantage to find solutions that allow older adults to age in place (or in a community setting of their choice) with appropriate services, avoiding costly nursing home care.

The report concludes with: families of every income category should have access to affordable options; in addition to scaling up programs for low-income households,programs need to be developed to help households that fall between the cracks — their incomes are above the threshold for the low income housing tax credit but below the level sufficient to afford market-rate supportive housing.

This is exactly what we are doing at Shillman House and hope to offer again as we try to get ahead of the community needs.


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