Right now, 2.2 million older and low-income renters are experiencing ‘worst-case’ housing and this is a growing problem. A growing coalition of national organizations is advocating for Congress’s support to address the pressing issue of affordable housing for a senior or older adults in general. With the increasing number of older Americans facing housing insecurity, the need for robust funding to meet their accommodation needs has become critical at this point.
The coalition, comprising LeadingAge, SAGE, the National Council on Aging, and other prominent groups, has called for full renewal funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) coming up in 2024. The need for a quick response is also high. There’s also the issue that many seniors aren’t sure what housing options they have if they don’t own their home. We’re going to explore current challenges faced by older adults in securing adequate housing and the various housing options available to them.
The Escalating Housing Needs for Older Adults We Can’t Ignore
The coalition emphasizes the significance of providing affordable housing options for at least 1.9 million households of older adults who are currently relying on HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Project-Based Rental Assistance, public housing, and Housing Choice voucher programs. The average annual household income of residents in HUD’s Section 202 program is just $15,208, which is leading further to lengthy waiting lists of two to five years for many people to even access these communities.
The recent “Worst Case Housing Needs: 2021 Report to Congress” revealed a sad percentage… 68% increase. This was the increase seen in worst-case housing needs among older adult households between 2009 and 2019. There has also been a rise in homelessness among older adults. Seniors actually make up a large part of the homeless population…at least half. This makes the situation even more complicated and with the need for more urgency.
The Call for Funding and Expanded Senior Housing Options:
To combat the affordable housing crisis faced by older adults, the coalition has urged Congress to allocate at least $600 million for new capital grants to help create 5,400 new Section 202 homes. There is a call for an additional $100 million to support additional HUD-assisted housing as well. The issue is that while the homeless population is growing, seniors often don’t have the same advantages as other homeless populations.
With sickness, declining health, limited mobility, and the need for assistance finding a way out of a never-ending circle of unaffordable housing or no housing at all is more difficult for older adults.
Considering Alternatives for Senior Housing:
While the coalition works to secure funding for affordable senior housing, older Americans are encouraged to proactively consider their housing options in the future. Planning ahead is crucial to avoid limited choices and hasty decisions during emergency situations.
It can also just be helpful to learn about different options that you might not have thought of as a senior.
Aging in Place
Making modifications to your existing home as an older adult can enable the chance for aging in place, providing a safe and familiar environment for older adults. Accessibility improvements, like wider pathways and grab bars in bathrooms, can significantly enhance safety. Even if you don’t own your home, there are often renter-friendly options that you can implement to make your home safer for yourself.
Additionally, in-home care services, such as cooking, cleaning, and running errands, can aid older adults in maintaining their independence.
Moving in with Family As A Senior
Living with adult children can offer financial benefits and companionship. However, clear guidelines regarding communal living, personal space, and financial responsibilities must be established from the beginning to ensure a harmonious arrangement. This can also be seen as a form of house-sharing.
For example, renting out space with family or friends can help to cut down if not eliminate living expenses and even combat social isolation. This option requires careful consideration to prevent any caregiver-related challenges or issues with family in the future.
Seniors with limited income may explore various local, state, and federal housing programs, including the different section housing programs. It is essential to apply early, as waiting lists for subsidized housing can be extensive. If this could be an option to help you as an older adult, you’ll want to consider your location, and how much something like rent control, etc. would be useful to you as well.
Independent Living Communities
Retirement villages, active adult communities, and senior apartments offer a wide variety of independent living options with varying amenities, social activities, and services. These communities are suitable for retirees seeking an active and socially engaging lifestyle. This is similar to aging in place but in areas like this, you will have help, guidance, pre-configured safety, and no maintenance to worry about on your own. It’s the hands-off version of aging in place in a way.
For older adults requiring some assistance with daily tasks, assisted living communities provide the necessary support and care services. These facilities may also offer memory care options for those with cognitive impairment. It could also be a good option to work with different senior assistance agencies or to hire a family member to help you with daily tasks if you wish to stay in your own home.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities As A Senior
CCRCs offer a more comprehensive approach to aging. This housing option, helps seniors to transition from independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing care, if needed, on the same site. This is something that can be beneficial if you know you are in need of transitional assistance and need guidance.
Supporting Better Advocacy
With the growing coalition’s advocacy and Congress’s support, the affordable housing needs of older adults are gaining more attention thankfully. Securing robust funding is crucial to address the escalating crisis and ensure that older Americans have adequate housing options as they age.
Meanwhile, older adults are still always encouraged to plan for their future housing needs, considering the variety of available and potential options to ensure a comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle in their later years.