The Harvard Center for Housing Studies just released a report talking about projections and implications on housing from a growing older population. By the year 2035 more than one in five people in the US will be age 65 or older and one in three households will be headed up by someone in that age group as well. This 65 and over demographic is expected to grow from 48 million people to 79 million people in the same time span. So, how will this age group affect housing?
Most of these older adults are homeowners and in that number is projected to increase for those 65 and over. According to a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, households run by someone age 80 or over will double within the next 20 years. [Source]
History has shown that many people as they age preferred age in place, meaning that they prefer not to move after age 65 if they don't have to. This means that housing options will need to be more appropriate and designed for these people. This translates into a lot of single-story homes, wide hallways and doorways and zero step entrances. However, only 3 1/2% of homes offer all three of these features currently. This is a huge gap and an opportunity to create housing that is not only affordable but accessible to this demographic and within reach of supportive services.
Low-income renters are vulnerable in this demographic because so many of them are paying 30% of their income for housing by 2035 according to the report. Over 11 million homeowners will also be in the position.
As I stated earlier, this is a huge opportunity for the future of developers and builders. Many multi-generational homes are playing a greater role in today's housing market. About 8% of the population in that demographic live in the homes of their relatives but that number is projected to significantly increase over the next 20 years. In 2035, 17 million older adult households will have at least one person with the mobility disability and they will need modifications to the home in order to accommodate. Not only will housing need to adapt but new zoning and tax regulations may be necessary to support our aging population.