Baby Boomers to Face Big Housing Problem

Jennifer Molinsky  |   January 1, 2015

As the baby boomers age, the population aged 65 and older is projected to climb to 73 million by 2030 – a rise of 33 million in just 20 years.

That surge is also expected to bring about an alarming number of lower-income older adults who may face several housing challenges in the years ahead, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. Within a decade, JCHS researchers predict that households aged 65 and over earning less than $15,000 will rise by 37 percent to 6.5 million.

“Ensuring these low-income older adults are safely and affordably housed will require a great deal of leadership, creativity, and planning, particularly in the present federal budget environment,” writes Jennifer Molinsky, a JCHS research associate, at the Housing Perspectives blog.

Already, the majority of low-income households 65 and over (in which 73 percent have annual incomes under $15,000 and 48 percent have incomes between $15,000 and $30,000) live in housing that is considered “unaffordable." Most economists consider home owners “cost-burdened” if they are paying more than 30 percent of income to housing.

Read more: Baby Boomers to Face Serious Housing Crunch

A substantial number of older adults will “face worst-case housing needs—defined as living in severely inadequate units, paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing... or both,” Molinsky writes. Nearly 1.5 million very low-income older households met “worse case housing needs” in 2013, a rise of 31 percent from 2003.

“Going forward, assuming income distributions remain similar to today, the expanding older population means millions more older renters will have very low incomes and potential housing affordability problems in the years ahead,” Molinsky writes. “With rapid population growth and worrisome trends in income, debt, and savings, preserving and creating more affordable units and ensuring sufficient subsidy to meet the needs of older low-income renters requires action at all levels.”

Source: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies’ Housing Perspectives