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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Reports and Publications

A Need for More Housing Options for a Rapidly Aging Population

11 January 2017
Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) released a new report focusing on America’s rapidly aging population. The report projects that by 2035 more than one in five people in the country will be 65 years or older, with one in three households headed by a person in that same age bracket.

JCHS reports that only 3.5% of homes offer all elements needed to provide a safe, accessible living environment for an aging population, including zero-step entrances, single-floor living, and wide halls and doorways.

In addition, as older adults begin to retire, incomes will begin to decline. This will lead to a growing population of cost-burdened homeowners and renters. JCHS projects nearly 17.1 million older households will be cost-burdened by 2035, which is an increase of 7 million households from today.

With regard to renters, JCHS finds that the surge in the older population will lead to a growth in renters 65 years or older from 6 million to 11 million. While some older adults will prefer to age in place, others may seek smaller,  energy efficient rental units that are located proximate to services and transit. Further, by 2035 7.6 million adults who are 65 years or older will qualify for federal rental subsidies, which is a staggering increase of 90% from 2013. This means there will be an increasing need for wider array of affordable housing options.

The report suggests possible responses to these problems include increasing accessibility and subsidies to older cost burdens adults, increasing public awareness, and expanding accessible, affordable housing options in strategic locales.

Click here to read the full report.