Older Americans Face Critical Challenges to Age In Place

While it’s no secret that the number of baby boomers retiring continues to surge, a new report finds the growing number of older Americans face extreme challenges when it comes to housing affordability.

According to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy, many older adults lack access to affordable services that could help them age in place.

“Given the sharp increase in the population of older adults cited in the report, it’s essential that we focus now on strengthening the nation’s policy response,” said Sydelle M. Knepper, founder and CEO of the New York-based development firm SKA Marin. “HUD’s Section 202 supportive housing for the elderly program has done a lot to fund housing for older adults and people with a disability, providing more than 400,000 homes over the last 50 years, but we need to act at a much larger scale to have a hope of meeting future need.”

An older population with health and mobility issues is expected to drive demand for home modifications, services to help residents age in place, and housing options that facilitate the delivery of services and help prevent premature entry into nursing homes.

“The demand for renovations and retrofits to accommodate disabilities will soar. Older adults almost universally say they want to age in their current homes, but many lack access to the services needed to ensure this outcome,” said the report.

There are plenty of obstacles to ensuring people can age in place, one set of policies to assist with home modifications using a range of funding sources can help.

“A critical question concerns how to pay for the services needed to help residents age in place. One option is to expand the use of Medicaid and Medicare funding for these services since they likely result in savings associated with postponing or avoiding more expensive nursing care and emergency room visits.”

The report suggests that existing and emerging policies such as the Community Development Block Grant, HOME, or housing trust funds, can help to connect residents to social services.

Advocacy groups for older adults have also begun tackling this looming issue, in large part working to spread awareness and to offer solutions that build on the existing policy framework.

Rodney Harrell, a policy advisor at AARP’s Public Policy Institute, says that communities and states must understand the challenges before they can address them. “As the older population grows, meeting the housing needs of older adults is certain to become a significant challenge across the nation. States and communities need to effectively respond by adopting policies that ensure adequate, affordable housing for people of all ages.”

View the report,

Written by John Yedinak

John Yedinak



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