Joint Center for Housing Studies “America’s Rental Housing 2022” Report Includes Data Findings on Older Renters

Jan 26, 2022

Rental housing demand came roaring back in the second year of the pandemic, reducing
vacancy rates and driving up rents, according to America’s Rental Housing 2022, a new report released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The report includes a range of data points and findings regarding older adults.

Some of these findings and predictions include the following:

  • The number of older renters is growing rapidly as the baby-boom generation ages into their 60s and 70s.

Over the decade from 2009 to 2019, the total number of renter households was up 14 percent, but the number headed by a person age 65 and over jumped by 43 percent. Most of this growth reflects the 37 percent increase in households in that age group, although
their rentership rate edged up slightly as well. Over the next two decades, the baby boomers will move more fully into the 75-and-over age group, the time of life
when rentership rates typically rise, accelerating the growth in older renters.

  • Renter households with incomes below $30,000 are much more likely to be
    headed by an older adult.

Some 26 percent of these lower-income renters have household heads age 65 and
over, compared with 11 percent of renters with incomes above $30,000. This share is nearly equal to the share of all households that are age 65 and over (27 percent).

  • Certain housing features such as stairs can make it difficult for older adults to navigate and use their homes.

In 2019, 12 percent of renters aged 65–79 and 23 percent of renters age 80 and over reported difficulties entering the home, moving from room to room, or using the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom.

  • Older adults with severe cost burdens often sacrifice not only on food but also healthcare expenses.

Some 30 percent of extremely low-income renter households are headed by adults age 65 and over, and 18 percent include a householder with a disability—two groups that typically need costly medical care. Cutting back on medications or foregoing doctor appointments to avoid fees and copayments put these households at even greater risk of serious illness or medical complications.

See the full report here for more details.