Why Affordable Housing for Seniors?

Every day 10,000 adults turn 65 in the United States. Federal programs that subsidized the building of new affordable housing for seniors are under constant threat or have ceased to exist.

Policymakers at all levels of government are concerned about a looming wave of homelessness among older adults as the number of poor seniors mount and housing costs continue to skyrocket, especially in the Metropolitan DC area. Consider the following facts:

  • More retirees than ever rely on Social Security as their sole source of income in retirement and the average recipient receives $1,341 monthly. Nearly one in five have no retirement savings at all.
  • A growing number of older adults rely on the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that provides eligible seniors with a maximum of $735 a month for an individual and $1,103 for married couples.
  • There is a wide perception that older Americans have limited housing costs because they own their own homes with paid off mortgages (nearly a third of older homeowners still have one) and they have Medicare to cover their health care.
  • Those with mortgages may face problems with unaffordable payments (3.8 million are currently underwater) and most who sell must rent.
  • Medicare does not cover health care costs in full. In fact, high health care costs are the most significant driver of income insecurity among older adults.
  • Between 2003 and 2013, the number of older adult households paying more than half of their incomes for rent or living in severely substandard conditions increased by 31
  • Congress has not provided substantial resources for construction or new housing under Section 202 (a federal-assisted housing program targeted to seniors) since FY2012.
  • Homelessness among seniors is projected to increase 33% by 2020 and 100% by 2050.

Sources and suggested reading. Consider supporting advocacy efforts around providing affordable housing for older Americans:

Center for American Progress, Elderly Poverty: The Challenge Before Us 

Grantmakers in Aging, Affordable Housing for Seniors 

Justice in Aging, How to Prevent and End Homelessness among Older Adults

Kaiser Family Foundation, State by State Snapshot of Poverty among Seniors 

Leading Age, Section 202: Supportive Housing for the Elderly

National Council on Aging, Economic Security Facts