Affordable Housing, Community Development, Reports and Publications

America’s Aging Population Will Face Challenges Securing Quality Housing

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

A new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University – Housing America’s Older Adults – outlines the housing needs of America’s aging population and suggests possible solutions to these issues.

The report states that by 2030 there will be 132 million Americans who will be considered “older adults,” those who are over the age of 50, and that in fifteen years one in five Americans will be aged at least 65. As the baby-boom generation ages, the report states that it will become more difficult for them to find quality housing, which the report defines as being affordable, accessible, and well-located. The report states that higher housing costs will test the financial stability of older Americans, while the general lack of basic accessibility features will challenge the growing limitations on their physical and mental abilities. The report also calls attention to America’s car-based transportation infrastructure, which will isolate those who cannot or choose not to drive.

For those older adults with chronic conditions and disabilities, the report finds that the availability of housing with services and supports will influence the quality and cost of their long-term care. If housing programs and the health care system remain disconnected, it increases the risk of premature institutionalization for these older adults with chronic conditions and disabilities.

The authors offer a wide range of recommendations to respond to the various issues highlighted in the report:

  • Promotion of livability principles through housing, transportation, and walkability initiatives.
  • Expansion of federal rental assistance to reach more older renters with lower incomes and higher housing costs.
  • Requirements by state and local governments that all new residential construction include certain accessibility features while also offering low-cost loans to homeowners to modify their homes to accommodate household members with disabilities.
  • Refocus state Medicaid program funding to help lower income households age in the community rather than in institutional facilities.
  • Provision of a range of services to older adults by municipalities, including: social and volunteer opportunities; education programs focused on health, finance, and housing maintenance; adult day care and meals programs; and health and wellness services.

Click here to access the report. 


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