COVID-19 deaths have curtailed short-term supply needs for senior housing. The projected senior housing units needed to serve those 85 or older in 2021 are less than pre-pandemic estimates by as many as 41,000, according to National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care findings published last week.

Seniors aged more than 85 years account for 30% of all COVID-19-related deaths in the United States to date. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s provisional numbers released April 21 showed that 169,545 people in this age group have died as a result the pandemic.

A 2019 NIC whitepaper that projected senior housing needs through 2040 concluded that almost 1.7 million units of seniors housing would be needed in 2021. The revised projection represents a 2.5% decrease in need due to the pandemic. For perspective, NIC Chief Economist Beth Mace and research statistician Anne Standish said in a blog post, the entire Philadelphia metropolitan senior housing market is fewer than 41,000 units, so the decrease is significant.

The revised estimate is limited by the fact that the CDC numbers were provisional. It is likely that the numbers will be higher when all is said and done, the NIC authors said. Further, the analysis does not consider possible changes in consumer attitudes affecting senior housing rates in a post pandemic scenario. And lastly, the analysis is based on population estimates, not occupancy rates, Mace and Standish said.