By 2030, a full 20 percent of the American population will be at least 65 years old. The bad news is that a large percentage of that population will not be financially prepared to fund their retirements and age in their own homes, and the government needs to start fixing the problem now, according to a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The report, released Sunday, finds little preparation, by both seniors themselves and the federal government, to deal with the lack of affordable housing, currently measured in millions of units. Add to that the fact that “most homes and communities lack the structural features and support services that can make living there independently a safe, realistic option,” and the picture gets dimmer still, the report states.
The collision of inadequate housing, less money, and a woeful lack of preparations such as longterm care insurance gets even worse when adding in the fact that about 70 percent of adults over 65 will eventually require help with daily living activities such as bathing, food preparation, dressing, and medication management, the BPC states.
The report outlines 10 ideas for effectively addressing the problem; First, a call for the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to explicitly adopt a goal to prevent and end homelessness among older adults. Also, there is a call for federally funded rental-assistance programs, as well as a new program for senior-supportive housing that uses project-based rental assistance and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits‒‒which should be substantially increased‒‒to support new construction and attract funding for services from health care programs.
Additionally, the BPC recommends rewiring how federal programs such as the Rental Assistance Demonstration program are applied, and federally directed ways to more effectively support the service coordination needs of senior housing providers, particularly mission-oriented nonprofits.
At the state level, lawmakers should use their National Housing Trust Fund allocations in concert with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Capital Magnet Fund to support the production and preservation of affordable housing for lowest-income seniors, and should consider adopting permissive land-use policies that encourage alternative housing structures for seniors, such as accessory dwelling units, micro-units, and congregate/group homes.
Lastly, the Center recommends that the White House Office of Management and Budget should convene an interagency task force to assess the effects of federal laws and regulations on the production and preservation of new affordable housing, particularly for seniors, and identify ways these laws and regulations can be modified to reduce costs and increase production.