Growing Numbers Find Housing Unaffordable

Housing has become less affordable for many older adults who pay more than they can stand to for a place to live, according to a study by older homeowners the Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

The recession has taken a major toll on millions of Americans, especially older citizens. The study expands on findings determined in 2007 research at the peak of the nation’s worst economy in decades. The foreclosure crisis has taken 7.6 million homes through formal repossessions, including millions of older Americans homes.

Living conditions have drastically changed in the last decade for older Americans as many return to work in order to just have a place to call home, and many others have been forced out of the homes they once thought they would own after paying off a mortgage.

“The American dream is getting harder for many older Americans to sustain,” said Susan Reinhard, senior vice president for public policy at AARP. “While just a decade ago Americans were more likely to own their homes and cover their rent, today many are faced with the harsh reality that they cannot afford to live their lives the way they choose.”

older couple

The study also found that fewer U.S. homes are free and clear with more homeowners paying mortgages in hopes of someday owning their property without a home loan. More than 30% are facing an increasing burden in terms of what they can afford for housing, and are spending more than a third of their income on rent or mortgage payments.

Affordability is key to living any where in the country, and many older Americans have sought regions and communities in states where they can more readily afford to live such as North-Easterners moving from New York state, where combined federal, state, county and sometimes municipal taxes are some of the highest in the nation.

An estimated 240,000 easterners facing a higher cost of housing that became unaffordable to handle have moved to North Carolina for more affordable housing.

Households with older adults, 50 and above, are also less likely to be married and living with a spouse than in past years. Divorce levels in many regions of the U.S. have topped that of Great Depression era levels since the financial crisis erupted more than three years ago.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence and does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.