Middle-income seniors risk falling through cracks in housing market

From: The Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WASHINGTON — Mary Gerace has lived here since 1963 and loves it. But at 73, she worries that someday she may become too frail to stay in the rent-controlled third-floor walk-up apartment where she has lived for 42 years. Then, she fears, she won’t be able to afford to remain in the city.

“I’m fine now, thank goodness, but a surprise fall or a serious illness could change that,” said Ms. Gerace, who retired three years ago from working in human resources at a small company. The low rent on her apartment, which she shares with her brother, enables her to own a car, eat out sometimes, and take occasional day trips.

But local senior housing facilities she has looked into cost many times more than what she now pays, and far more than her savings would cover. “As I look around the Washington area, I realize that I’m going to have to look outside of here,” possibly to another region of the U.S., she said.

In the next decade, the number of seniors who are middle-income is projected to soar, and a large share of them will be unable to afford housing and care, according to a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs. Over the past 40 years the housing market for seniors has expanded widely, but new development has focused largely on higher-end facilities, said the report, which used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a national longitudinal study of people 50 and older sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and conducted by the University of Michigan.

Read the full article here. 

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