State-Level Projections of Older Adult Renters

Legislation | May 20, 2021 | by Linda Couch

Expansion of HUD’s Section 202 Housing for the Elderly Program needed, researchers say.

New data released from the Urban Institute show state-level projections for older adult renter growth between 2020 and 2040. As the number of older adult households dramatically expands, homeownership among older adults will decrease, older adult renter households will increase by an astonishing 5.5 million, and a large share of new older adult renter households will be non-white.

According to a blog to Urban Institute researchers Laurie Goodman and Jun Zhu, the state level projections “illustrate how needs differ by state and identify the states where the senior renter growth is the most rapid and the need for housing solutions is most acute.”

California, Florida, Texas, New York and North Carolina, just five states, will account for 2 million of the new older adult renter households, while these states together with Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri, Tennessee, Michigan, Virginia, and Washington state will comprise almost 70% of the exploding number of older renter households.

“At the federal level, one of the most effective programs to address the needs of senior renters is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Section 202 program. This program addresses both affordable supply and the connection between housing and supportive services by providing interest-free capital advances to nonprofit sponsors to finance housing that offers rental assistance and supportive housing for seniors with low incomes. Despite this program’s effectiveness and the large growth of the senior population, the number of new Section 202 units has declined dramatically over the past decade. Our projections strongly suggest the need to expand the program, targeting those areas with the greatest need for this type of housing,” Goodman and Zhu write.

The state-level data follows Urban Institute research from early 2021, which projects almost all new household formation between 2020 and 2040 will be older adult households. Of these, a smaller share will be homeowner households. And, of the increasing number of older adult renter households, many more will be Black, Hispanic, and Asian or other non-white races and ethnicities.

The new state-level data show these gains. As the researchers note, “…households of color will drive much of the increase in the number of senior renters. For example, of the projected increase of 623,146 senior renters in California, 52 percent will be Hispanic renters, 16% will be Asian and other renters…, 10% will be Black renters, and 22% will be white renters. In the six states with the largest increase in senior renters, less than half the increase is projected to be white.

Federal, state, and local policymakers all have a role to play in accommodating the coming surge of senior renters, who will need more affordable, senior-friendly housing in the next two decades. Failure to do so will not only fail one of our most vulnerable populations but will have a profound impact on their children and their communities,” the researchers write in a blog announcing the state-level data.

LeadingAge’s top housing policy goal is to expand the supply of affordable senior housing.