Many older Americans burdened by housing costs – study

by Francis Monfort20 Nov 2018

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies has warned that many households in their 50s and early 60s may not be financially prepared for retirement after finding that many older Americans are burdened by housing costs.

According to its Housing America’s Older Adults 2018 report, nearly a third of households age 65 or older (9.7 million) pay at least 30% of their income for housing, and more than half of these pay more than 50%. The report also found that more than half of US households are now headed by someone 50 or over.

The study also identified a wealth gap between older homeowners and renters. Median homeowners aged 50 to 64 had a net worth of $292,000 in 2016, almost 60 times that of the same-age median renter. The wealth gap between owners age 65 and over and same-age renters is nearly as large.

Additionally, the homeownership rate for older whites and blacks reached their largest disparity since recordkeeping began in 1976. The study reported a 24-percentage point gap, with 81% of white households age 50 and over owning their homes compared to only 57% of older black households.

“We need to address gaps in the affordability and accessibility of our housing stock, both of which are essential to older adults’ independence and wellbeing,” said Jennifer Molinsky, the lead author of the report. “As the number of households in their 80s grows, it will be essential that we strengthen the links between housing, healthcare, and other services.”