PAHRC Releases Report on Assisted and Unassisted Older Adults

The Public and Affordable Housing Research Corporation (PAHRC) released its 2021 Housing Impact Report: Feature on Older Adults, which finds that 2.44 million households headed by an older adult lived in publicly supported housing in 2020, a 2.3% increase since 2019. They find that 6.35 million older adult-headed households earned below 80% of their state’s median income and likely qualified for rental assistance. The authors report that at least 3.22 million additional older households would benefit from expanding rental assistance programs.

The report examines the older adult population living in public housing and in units funded by the Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV), project-based Section 8, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans with affordability restrictions, special-purpose voucher programs, and state programs. The analysis is based on resident demographic data gathered from HUD’s Picture of Subsidized Households, HUD’s Resident Characteristics Report, USDA’s Multifamily Housing Occupancy Report, and NLIHC and PAHRC’s National Housing Preservation Database.

The authors document that more than one-third of households in publicly supported housing are headed by an adult over the age of 62. Housing subsidies lifted 632,000 people over the age of 65 out of poverty in 2019. The number of older adults living in publicly supported housing increased by 1.9% between 2019 and 2020. The number of older adults likely eligible to be assisted by publicly supported homes is rising at an even faster rate: between 2019 and 2020, that number increased by 2.96%. Likely eligible older adult households include those earning less than 80% of area median income and paying more than 30% of their annual income toward housing.

The report notes that older adults living in publicly supported homes face an elevated risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, and that they report higher rates of COVID-19 risk factors relative to low-income unassisted peers. Among these older adults, 38% report having diabetes, 21% have heart disease, and 18% have asthma. In addition to the risks associated with catching the virus, these older adults face risks related to social isolation. Eighty percent of the older adults living in publicly supported housing live alone, but few use Internet tools that might increase social connections while social distancing: 68% did not use the Internet in 2018, and 64% say they “never or almost never” used a computer in 2018.

The authors note that more resources are needed to help affordable housing providers meet the social and physical needs of older residents struggling due to the pandemic.

Access the report at: