Harvard study: Elderly demographics will crush existing housing and service options

The nation’s surging elderly population will create unprecedented demand for affordable housing and service options within two decades, a Harvard University study asserts.

In fact, rising needs will far outstrip current capacity on both fronts, according to “Projections and Implications for Housing a Growing Population: Older Adults 2015-2035.”

Demographic shifts explain the pending challenge: The nation’s 65-and-older population is expected to grow from 48 million to 79 million by 2030, and the number of households headed by someone aged more than 65 years will increase by 66%, to nearly 50 million.  That means more housing units will need universal design elements such as zero-step entrances, single-floor living and wide halls and doorways, authors note. Less than 4% of current homes offer all three of these features, however.

“The housing implications of this surge in the older adult population are many,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. He said they will heighten the need for new approaches that respond to growing need for housing that is “affordable, accessible and linked to supportive services.”