Report: Housing Costs a Growing Concern for Older Adults

A growing number of older Americans are finding it difficult to downsize to smaller, more accessible, and more affordable homes while staying in their communities.

2 minute read

December 11, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View from back of elderly man and woman holding hands and walking on a path in a park with fall colors.

Catherine / Adobe Stock

A new report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies highlights how the growing costs of housing are impacting older Americans. As Sarah Holder explains in Bloomberg CityLab, “The number of 65-and-over residents who are considered cost-burdened reached record highs in 2021, while federal housing subsidies only reached 36.5% of older households who were eligible.”

Holder notes that “Homelessness among older adults rose during the pandemic. And much of the US housing stock is itself aging, in need of upgrades and features for people to age in place safely.” Meanwhile, only a small percentage of U.S. homes is equipped for older residents with mobility issues.

According to Jennifer Molinsky, project director of the Housing and Aging Society Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies, “A lot of people express a desire to stay in their communities, even if not in their specific, long-term home. And yet, many of the communities where older people are — suburbs, exurbs, rural areas — don’t have too many options besides single-family houses.”

Holder points out that “Some housing solutions aimed at addressing the broader lack of affordability are particularly well-suited to older adults, such as zoning reforms and policies that incentivize the construction of smaller “missing middle” housing and accessory dwelling units (they’re nicknamed ‘granny flats’ for a reason).” Making housing more diverse, accessible, affordable, and close to transit and amenities can benefit groups beyond older adults.

Thursday, December 7, 2023 in Bloomberg CityLab

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