Report: U.S. Not Prepared to Meet Seniors’ Housing Needs

Report: U.S. Not Prepared to Meet Seniors’ Housing Needs

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) recently released a report entitled "Housing America’s Older Adults:  Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population." The report cites housing cost burden, a lack of basic accessibility features in the current housing stock, isolation due to lack of transportation infrastructure, and disconnects between housing and health care as areas of concern. It concludes that the U.S. is not prepared to meet the housing needs of an aging population, but states, “There is still time for the nation to prepare for the evolving needs of older adults by expanding the supply of housing that is affordable, safe, and accessible; providing opportunities for older adults to connect socially yet live independently; and integrating housing and long-term care services to support those aging in private homes.”

According to the report, one-third of older adults pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Additionally, if the current income distribution of the 65 and over population remains constant, the number of households with annual incomes less than $15,000 among this population will increase by 1.8 million, to 6.5 million households, in 2024, a 37 percent increase. 

The report states, “For many older renters, securing federally subsidized housing is the key to financial stability.” It found that in 2011, just over one-third of very low-income renters, with incomes at or below 50 percent of area median income (AMI), who were 62 years and older and eligible for rental assistance received it. The report predicts that if housing assistance does not increase, by 2030 there will be 4 million very low-income older adult renters trying to find affordable housing in the private market.  In addition to the need for additional affordable rental housing, the report highlights the need to preserve the current supply. 

The report says that to help preserve and expand the affordable housing stock “many states use some degree of targeting to older adults in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.” It says the LIHTC program has provided approximately 320,800 units for older renters, of which 65 percent were newly constructed.