RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

JAN 2019

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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RISMedia's REAL ESTATE January 2019 65 Are their needs being met? Accord- ing to the report, the necessary tools that America's aging population rely on are in short supply. "We need to address gaps in the affordability and accessibility of our housing stock, both of which are essential to older adults' indepen - dence and well-being," says Jennifer Molinsky, the lead author of the re - port. "As the number of households in their 80s grows, it will be essen - tial that we strengthen the links be- tween housing, healthcare and other services." Among the biggest roadblocks is the wealth gap. In 2016, median homeowners aged 50 - 64 had a net worth of $292,000—nearly 60 times that of the median renter in the same age group. While median incomes increased over the last five years for older adults—by 9.6 per - cent for those aged 65 - 79 and by 5.2 percent for those 80 and over— those aged 50 - 64 only saw an in - crease of 2.6 percent. The racial divide widens this gap even more. While 81 percent of white households aged 50-plus own their homes, only 57 percent of black households can claim ownership—a 24-percentage point gap. High costs of living are also hin - dering the aging population. Nearly 9.7 million households use at least 30 percent of their income to pay for housing, while over half of this seg - ment pays more than 50 percent of their income. While this segment of the popu - lation continues to age, there's a shortage of properties that can ad - dress the physical challenges and disabilities that accompany them. For example, in 2016, 17 percent of households aged 50 and over in - cluded individuals who had trouble walking or climbing stairs. According to recent data, only 2.5 percent of homes in the U.S. have features that address these mobility concerns: single-floor living, no-step entries and extra-wide halls and doors. The biggest risk? The largest por - tion of aging heads of household (57 percent for those over 80) is the most vulnerable because they're liv - ing alone. The same goes for rent- ers—77 percent within the same age group live alone. This segment of the population largely relies on non-residents or paid caregivers for assistance, but also has lower in - comes than larger households, pos- ing more complex challenges. Vulnerability can also be location- based. For those aging heads of household who reside in natural disaster-prone areas, the dangers are amplified. Disruptions to health - care in response to power outages, road closures and healthcare facility closures can significantly impact aid efforts. After-disaster dangers are additional risks that could dramati - cally impact the livability and health of this population. As baby boomers begin to turn 80 in less than a decade, demand for accessible apartment units and homes will only continue to grow, as will the wealth and racial gap and the need for funding to support fi - nancial assistance programs that help pay for basic housing and other necessities. In which institutions do the solu - tions reside? According to the re- port, state and local governments, in addition to the private and non - profit sectors, can play a role in de- veloping more affordable and suit- able housing. RE "Housing America's Older Adults" is a supplement to the JCHS annual State of the Nation's Housing report. Liz Dominguez is RISMedia's associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. Housing America's Aging Population: The Challenges Ahead by Liz Dominguez T oday's head of household is largely over 50 years old, according to a recent report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), "Housing America's Older Adults 2018." In fact, households headed by someone over 65 represent 55 percent of the nation's households, while 65 million households are headed by someone aged 50 or over.

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