Generations United released its report Out of One, Many: Uniting the Changing Faces of America on December 10. The report features a survey on demographic shifts as well as articles written in the fields of employment, transportation, civic engagement, and housing, all through a lens of intergenerational collaboration. Generations United invited one established leader to write about key trends in each of these fields and brainstorm ideas for intergenerational involvement. They then invited an emerging leader in each respective field to respond and suggest policy initiatives.
For the topic of housing, Erica Poethig, director of urban policy initiatives at the Urban Institute, authored the first article and NLIHC Research Director Megan Bolton responded.
In her article, Ms. Poethig discussed how changing consumer choices affect housing issues. She noted that as people live longer and young people delay building a family, multigenerational housing is becoming more common. Ms. Bolton added that the suburban homes favored by the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers may not be as desirable to Millenials. Recent research suggests that Millenials are more likely to prefer dense, walkable communities and to rent versus own. Baby Boomers are also increasing demand for affordable urban housing. Some of this may also be explained by a tight credit market and the trauma of foreclosure that far too many Americans faced during the housing crisis. The future of the housing market depends on the consumer choices made be these different generations.
Ms. Poethig introduced two ideas that incorporate an intergenerational approach to housing policy. The first, homesteading, incentivizes younger generations to purchase foreclosed homes in areas that may not be as appealing to older generations and then improve the quality of these houses. Homesharing allows older generations to “age in place” while helping younger generations find affordable rents and pay other costs, including student loans.
In her article, Ms. Bolton drew attention to the needs of low income renters, noting that while the supply of rental units increased from 2010 to 2011, 61% of these new units were only affordable to those at 80% the area median income or higher. This has led to high competition for affordable and available rentals. Ms. Bolton suggested mixed-income, mixed-age properties as a way to address these shortages.
Both authors pushed for more balanced housing policies and mortgage interest deduction reform so more Americans can benefit from the deduction. Both also urged that the National Housing Trust Fund be funded to increase the supply of affordable rental housing. Generations United also put forward their own recommendations based on the commissioned articles, including encouraging savings from mortgage interest deduction reform going towards mixed-age units and communities.
Generations United also made recommendations based on the other issue topics, including: broad implementation of flexible work arrangements by promoting the benefits to worker and firm productivity; encouraging innovation, and incentivizing internships and other workforce development programs; increasing the use of time banks and calling for same day voter registration for improved civic engagement; incentivizing innovative coordinated transportation and a “transportation race-to-the-top” model to better the nation’s transportation system.
The survey results in Out of One, Many: Uniting the Changing Faces of America explain how Americans experience, think and feel about demographic shifts. The respondents were provided with data on this shift, including that Americans are living longer and retiring later, and that one in five Americans will be 65 years old or older by 2043. The racial/ethnic makeup of the country is also shifting; more than half of Americans will be people of color by 2042. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, shows that while 66% were optimistic about the changing age and racial makeup of American communities there is room for improvement. Only 36% believe that elected officials are doing a good job addressing these shifts and less than half (49%) believe employers are doing a good job offering flexible workplace options that address the needs of both young and older workers.
View Out of One, Many: Uniting the Changing Faces of America at: http://bit.ly/1hKPzuH