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Accessibility Features for Older Households in Subsidized Housing

January 1, 2020

As the overall population ages, the number of very low-income older adult households that qualify for HUD housing assistance is rising rapidly. Older adults tend to stay in subsidized housing longer than younger families. As a result, older adults make up a growing share of HUD-subsidized renter households. In the last ten years alone, the share of older adults in HUD-subsidized housing has risen five percentage points, and older adult households now make up over a third of all subsidized renters. In this paper, we examine whether the subsidized housing stock is suitable for aging in place. We ask: What physical challenges do older subsidized renters face? What difficulties do they experience with their housing environment? And, are subsidized units more equipped with accessibility features than units without rent assistance?To answer these questions, we used the 2011 American Housing Survey, the last vintage of this survey to include detailed questions about housing accessibility and household mobility difficulties. We constructed a comparison group of eligible, unsubsidized renters making up to 30 percent of area median income. We used chi-square statistics, logistic regression modeling, and propensity score matching to identify differences in housing accessibility and mobility difficulties between subsidized and unsubsidized, eligible older adults. We also compare households receiving project-based subsidies to those receiving tenant-based vouchers.The findings confirm that older subsidized renters have many vulnerabilities, but rental housing assistance provides more livable housing in terms of accessibility than private-market rentals. We also find that renters receiving project-based rental assistance typically have more accessibility features than those receiving tenant-based assistance, but the differences are not statistically significant. Ultimately, our results highlight the benefit of subsidized housing but also point to unmet needs. Livable and wheelchair accessible units are lacking for older, extremely low-income renters, whether they receive a subsidy or not. While many units are potentially modifiable, only a small share have basic accessibility features that make them currently livable for older adults.Click "Download" to access this resource.

Innovations in Affordable Single-Family Home Construction

November 30, 2015

Sam LaTronica, candidate in Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, presented innovative case studies in affordable single-family home construction, including goals, positive outcomes, and lessons learned.

The State of the Nation's Housing 2015

June 15, 2015

A new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University finds that half of all renters across the country are handing over more than 30 percent of their income to cover housing costs, and around 25 percent have rental costs exceeding 50 percent of their monthly income. The study found that even moderate-income renters are struggling to cover housing costs.

America's Rental Housing: Evolving Markets and Needs

December 9, 2013

Rental housing has always provided a broad choice of homes for people at all phases of life. The recent economic turmoil underscored the many advantages of renting and raised the barriers to homeownership, sparking a surge in demand that has buoyed rental markets across the country. But significant erosion in renter incomes over the past decade has pushed the number of households paying excessive shares of income for housing to record levels. Assistance efforts have failed to keep pace with this escalating need, undermining the nation's longstanding goal of ensuring decent and affordable housing for all.

Rental Market Stresses: Impacts of the Great Recession on Affordability and Multifamily Lending

July 31, 2011

Examines the rising number of financially stressed renters, the shrinking supply of affordable and adequate rental housing, and increasing loan delinquencies among multi-family property owners. Outlines implications of the supply gap and market prospects.

Housing America's Older Adults 2019

July 5, 2011

As both the number and share of older households in the United States increase to unprecedented levels, inequalities are becoming more evident. Within the 65-and-over age group, most recent income gains have gone to the highest earners, and the number of households with housing cost burdens has reached an all-time high. Ensuring that middle- and lower-income households in this age range have the means to live affordably and safely in their current homes or move to other suitable housing will be a growing challenge. Meanwhile, many households in the 50-64 year-old age group have not recovered from the Great Recession, leaving them with lower incomes and homeownership rates than their predecessors at similar ages. For the nearly 10 million households in this age group that are cost burdened, ensuring financial and housing security in retirement will be a struggle.Click "Download" to access this resource.

America's Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities

April 26, 2011

Examines rental market conditions following the recession, especially the renewed need among low-income families; factors behind the affordability crisis; challenges in producing and preserving affordable units; and policy recommendations for financing.

Long-Term Low Income Housing Tax Credit Policy Questions

November 29, 2010

Discusses Low Income Housing Tax Credit policy questions such as whether to target the lowest-income families, issues such as geographic gaps in tax credit investment demand, and ongoing capital needs and asset management for LIHTC properties.

The Disruption of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Causes, Consequences, Responses, and Proposed Correctives

December 31, 2009

Examines how the 2008-09 drop in tax credit demand affected the main mechanism for creating and preserving affordable rental housing, the two government programs created to mitigate the impact, and their effectiveness. Proposes further policy options.

America's Rental Housing: The Key to a Balanced National Policy

April 28, 2008

Examines the impact of the subprime mortgage crisis on low-income renters, including the demographic and foreclosure-driven demand for rentals, slowing construction, and growing rent burdens. Suggests policies to boost the supply of affordable rentals.

America's Rental Housing: Homes for a Diverse Nation

January 1, 2006

Looks at the demographics of Americans who rent, and explores various factors that contribute to the shrinking supply of affordable rental units. Provides recommendations for expanding access to affordable housing for owners and renters.