By Sam Kunjukunju
As America continues to answer the coronavirus disaster, one other extra silent one is transpiring throughout the nation—a senior housing disaster. A lot of the nation’s out there housing is neither accessible nor reasonably priced for a lot of older adults. And with projected demographic adjustments, the state of affairs is sure to worsen.
Please be part of the ABA Basis June eight at Three p.m. for a one-hour webinar entitled “Banks, Seniors and Housing: The Challenge and the Opportunity,” that includes audio system from Harvard College’s Joint Middle for Housing Research and Northrim Bank. The webinar will discover housing challenges seniors face and study distinctive bank partnerships that help among the nation’s most at-risk populations. Register right here.
Adults 65 and older signify 16 p.c of the nation’s inhabitants, however that quantity will considerably enhance over the following decade, based on Census Bureau information. By 2035, the Harvard Joint Middle for Housing Research estimates that one-third of all American households might be headed by a senior. Whereas the demographic transition is because of advances in public well being and medical science, America’s housing trade has not equally progressed to fulfill the wants of our growing older inhabitants.
A basic problem older adults face is that almost all of America’s housing stock was seemingly designed for the younger and wholesome. Tens of millions of People dwell in single-family, multi-story houses with quite a few steps and upper-level bedrooms. For the aged, 40 p.c of whom have at the least one kind of incapacity, these houses should not at all times accessible or protected. Senior advocates suggest making use of common design ideas, a time period first described by the architect Ronald Mace to encourage environments which can be “usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” The premise is to create purposeful houses for everybody, together with these with bodily and cognitive impairments, in each stage of life.
Advocates urge zero-step entries, single-floor dwelling, accessible switches and shops for individuals of any peak, 36-inch-wide doorways and lever-style door and tap handles to make sure straightforward motion. These 5 components, which the ABA Basis highlights by means of on-line ideas to assist seniors age in place, are very important for the aged, who’re extra vulnerable to undergo fall-related accidents than youthful demographics. Sadly, each 19 minutes an older grownup dies from a fall. However falls, 55 p.c of which occur at house, are sometimes preventable and residential design performs an incredible position in contributing to prevention or damage. Whereas UD common design options cut back the danger of falls and promote independence, just one in 100 American houses incorporates all 5 housing components, based on AARP.
Past accessibility, affordability is equally vital. Presently, 10 million aged households spend greater than 30 p.c of their earnings on housing. By 2035, Harvard’s JCHS initiatives that quantity will develop to 17.1 million. Renters are extra probably than owners to be financially challenged, as greater than half of older grownup renters already spend greater than 30 p.c of their earnings on housing.
These elements are additionally alternatives for banks to deal with native senior housing wants. First Northern Bank in California acknowledged the dearth of reasonably priced housing of their group and collaborated with non-profit companions to develop Heritage Commons, a senior reasonably priced housing campus in Dixon, California. First Northern secured practically $3.5 million in grants by means of the Federal House loan Bank of San Francisco’s Inexpensive Housing Program and helped create a housing group for 125 seniors. Different banks, such because the American Financial savings Bank in Hawaii, have used the federal low-income housing tax credit score to help senior housing. ASB served as the first native investor, contributing $14.1 million in growing Rice Camp—practically 100 items to assist seniors dwell affordably and independently on the island of Kauai.
Because the nation begins to get better from the pandemic, housing might be a prime precedence for individuals, significantly weak teams comparable to older People. By investing in accessible and reasonably priced housing, banks can help their older neighbors and assist develop thriving communities.
Sam Kunjukunju is director of banker group engagement on the ABA Basis.