According to a new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University (JCHS), Housing America’s Older Adults 2023, the US is not ready to provide housing and care for an aging population. The urgent need for affordable housing and care will grow, not only because of the increasing number of older adults, but also because of widening wealth and income inequality.
Older adults, whose incomes are often fixed or declining, increasingly face the twin challenges of securing affordable housing and the services they need to remain in the home of their choice. In 2021, an all-time high of nearly 11.2 million older adults were cost burdened, meaning they spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Cost burdens are particularly high for renters, homeowners with mortgages, and households age 80 and over. Accessible housing is also in short supply; fewer than 4 percent of US homes offered the three key features of accessible housing—single-floor living, no-step entries, and wide hallways and doorways—at last measure.
While some older adults have home equity that can be tapped to pay for care or services, many do not. Older renters have only 2 percent of the net wealth of older homeowners and there are steep inequalities among owners as well; older Black homeowners have the lowest housing equity at $123,000, compared to $251,000 for older white homeowners, $200,000 for older Hispanic owners, and $270,000 for older owners who are Asian, multiracial, or another race.
For more detail and data, including more sections dealing with the cost of care, among other topics, see the full report here.