SALT LAKE CITY, April 27, 2021 (Newswire.com) - By 2030, one in every five Americans will be over age 65, and the nation will face a severe shortage in appropriate housing to meet their needs. In Utah, which is on the verge of a statewide affordable housing crisis, the state could lose over 40% of its federally subsidized rental units for low-income seniors over the next 25 years. More than 15% of units could be lost by 2030. Without this vital source of affordable housing, more than 3,000 senior households could experience housing instability and homelessness in the coming decades.
AARP Utah and Utah Housing Coalition have released a comprehensive report, Preserving Affordable Senior Housing Matters, recommending several steps to make senior housing preservation a statewide priority. These steps include:
- Incorporate senior housing preservation, specifically a roadmap for expiring units, in moderate-income housing plans.
- Establish a dedicated funding source for senior housing preservation.
- Adopt age-friendly zoning codes, including taking advantage of a new law that enables the creation of more ADUs in residential zones.
- Implement a one-year notification requirement for expiring subsidized units.
According to an AARP survey, nearly 90% of older adults in the U.S. want to remain in their current home as long as possible, but housing is the single biggest expenditure for most households. Rising home prices and rents, along with slow-growing incomes, make it difficult for many to find housing they can afford. It's particularly difficult for older adults living on fixed incomes.
"Ensuring older Utahns have access to affordable housing can help them stay in their home and their community safely, independently, and comfortably throughout their lives," said AARP Utah State Director Alan Ormsby. "As Utah's population ages, and we see an increased demand for affordable senior rentals, AARP also supports policies and programs that preserve diverse housing options that are affordable to households of different income levels."
According to a Bipartisan Policy Center report, in 2015, more than 22% of all 65+ households — 6.4 million — rented their homes. As the older adult population is projected to grow, it's estimated that the number of older adult renter households nationwide will more than double between now and 2035.
"We want our policy makers to be aware that, in the last eight years, senior homelessness has tripled from 763 in 2011 to 2,170 in 2019. We will only see this statistic increased if we do not preserve and build more affordable housing for senior Utahns," said Tara Rollins, Executive Director, Utah Housing Coalition.
Unless Utah acts to preserve its expiring subsidized senior housing, the state will lose 120 of the 182 units it's projected to gain each year. Senior housing preservation would not only maintain the affordability of the existing senior housing supply, it would also avert the unnecessary displacement of thousands of low-income older Utahns.
Download the report and view the interactive map.
Source: AARP Utah