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Housing for Older Adults: The Impacts of the Recession – 2011


For homeowners age 50+ with mortgages, the percentage that pay at least 30 percent of income for housing costs rose from 29 percent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2009. This report, prepared by the AARP Public Policy Institute, analyzes data from the State Housing Profiles 2011. Overall, the recession has had a tremendous impact on homeowners age 50+, especially those in the lower income quartiles. Making available more housing options that meet the needs of older adults of all income levels is going to become even more important as seniors try to cope with an array of issues related to housing costs.

Key Points

This paper summarizes findings from State Housing Profiles 2011, which uses several sources, including the 2009 American Community Survey, to look at key housing indicators for older adults. The data show that conditions have deteriorated significantly for older households during the last decade. Older homeowners and renters face greater affordability issues, and many low-income households face more unsustainable housing costs since the housing crisis and recession that began in 2007. Disability rates, family structures, foreclosure rates, and the age of homes are other factors that have shifted in the decade as older households adapt to face new and continuing challenges.

Notable findings highlighted in this paper include:

  1. Housing costs are becoming more burdensome for older adults, and those who rent or own with mortgages are at greater risk of affordability challenges than those who own their homes debt-free.
  2. The percentage of homeowners who own their homes free and clear dropped, and the percentage who are still paying mortgages after age 50 rose.
  3. Households age 50+ are less likely to be married and living with a spouse than in the past.
  4. The percentage of men age 50+ living alone has increased, while the percentage of women age 50+ living alone has declined.
  5. Renters age 50+ are more likely to have a disability than are homeowners.
  6. People age 50+ are more likely to live in older homes than in the past.

How to Use

This paper provides a good picture at the national level of the housing issues facing the 50+ population. There are some regional distinctions made throughout the paper that are worth a quick read for community planners facing housing issues among their older residents. Long term, communities will need more homes in locations with access to transportation choices and other community assets for older adults to help reduce overall household costs.

View full report: Housing for Older Adults: The Impacts of the Recession – 2011 (PDF – 1.2 MB)

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