The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) recently released Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes, a report highlighting housing quality and affordability issues facing seniors in rural communities. The nation’s senior population is expected to double over the next 40 years. Because more than one-quarter of all seniors live in rural areas and small towns, it is critical to expand housing options available to rural seniors.
According to U.S. Census data from 2010, the Midwest has the greatest percentage of its rural population over age 65 (16.2%), followed by the Northeast (15.9%), South (15.4%), and West (14.2%). Due to the outmigration of younger, working-age adults, the population of rural areas is aging more quickly than the nation as a whole.
Rural seniors have lower incomes and are more likely to live in poverty than seniors nationally. The median income for rural and small town senior households is $30,330 compared to $34,995 for seniors nationally; nearly one-third earn less than $20,000 annually. In 2011, the poverty rate of seniors was 9.8%, but for rural seniors it was 11.1%.
Eighty-three percent of small town and rural seniors own their home, compared to 79% of all seniors. Most rural seniors want to age in place, which can raise challenges. Aging in place may mean living far from supportive services or that their homes need costly retrofits to make them more accessible. Manufactured housing is another popular option for small town and rural seniors, with 11.1% living in these homes, compared to 6.8% nationally. Manufactured housing is desirable because of lower costs and because flexible siting options may enable seniors to live closer to relatives and services.
Rural seniors are less likely than city or suburban seniors to have access to quality, affordable rental housing. Consequently they often have to choose between staying in their single-family homes or moving to nursing homes. HAC emphasizes the need to increase rental housing, rehabilitation and repair programs, housing with services, and assisted living facilities for rural seniors.
Housing an Aging Rural America: Rural Seniors and Their Homes is available at http://ruralhome.org/storage/documents/publications/rrreports/ruralseniors2014.pdf?utm_content=ed%40nlihc.org&utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=Housing%20an%20Aging%20Rural%20America%3A%20Rural%20Seniors%20and%20Their%20Homes&utm_campaign=HAC%20News%3A%20December%2010%2C%202014content