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Report: Low Production Pushes Housing Costs Up

A new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that housing production is not keeping pace with the nation’s growth of households, which is creating higher housing costs and increased housing affordability struggles for low- and moderate-income households.  

The report also found that more older households are renting, even as rental housing costs continue to increase.

The number of households headed by adults age 65 and over grew by more than 800,000 per year on average in 2012-2017. The 70-74 year-old age group led this growth with a 25% increase, while the number of households headed by 65-69 year olds rose by 20%. By comparison, the total number of households grew by just 4% over this five-year period.

The housing market for low- and moderate-income households has gotten worse over the last several years. The nation lost, between 2011 and 2017, more than 1 million (or 4.9%) of privately-owned, non-subsidized apartments that rent for less than $800 a month.

Cost burdens have moved up the income scale as the lowest income households feel the brunt of the impact. Seventy-two percent of all households with annual incomes below $15,000 a year spend more than 50% of their income for housing.

According to the report, older households now make up more than a quarter of renters. For the lowest income older adult renters who pay more than half of their incomes for rent, the consequences are painful. The report says that compared with same-age adults in the bottom expenditure quartile without high housing cost burdens, these older households with severe burdens spend 44% less on food and 75% less on healthcare.

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