In early spring, the Administration on Aging released "A Profile of Older Americans: 2016." The report shared data on fifteen topical areas including population, income, housing, education, health and caregiving.
H.O.M.E. focuses on providing housing and housing support services to low-income seniors in Chicago. So we found the data around poverty and housing particularly important. Below are some highlights from the report:
Does poverty really affect older adults in America?
In 2015, over 4.2 million people over 65 were below the poverty level. That means that 8.8% of senior households lived on $11,367 or less. When costs of housing, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and non-cash benefits are factored in, the rate of seniors who are living in poverty was 13.7% in 2015. The cost of out-of-pocket medical expenses is a major source for this difference.
But most older adults don't have to worry about housing costs. Don't they own their homes outright?
It is true that many seniors are homeowners. Of the 11.9 million households headed by persons age 75 and over in 2015, 76% were owners and 24% were renters. However, nearly a third of senior homeowners still have a mortgage. Many of those seniors pay more than one-third of their income on housing costs.
For older renters, poverty and the burden of housing costs are a real issue. The median family income for senior renters was $17,400. In 2015, 78% of older renters spent more than one-third of their income on housing costs.
But for senior homeowners, their house is an asset, right?
For some seniors, owning a home can be an asset. However, the median value of homes owned by older adults is about $30,000 less than that of the value of those of all homeowners.
As seniors age, they tend to also live in older homes:
"For older homeowners age 75 and over in 2015, the median construction year was 1969 compared with 1978 for all homeowners. Among the homes owned by people age 75 and older, 3.5% had moderate to severe problems with plumbing, heating, electric, wiring, and/or upkeep."
For these homeowners, the costs of repairs and upkeep can be a drain on limited resources.
Nationwide, the growth of the senior population is increasing housing shortages for vulnerable populations. Many seniors, especially those living on low incomes, face limited choices in securing basic needs.
When housing costs such as rent and home repairs are out of reach; when your home is too far away from a grocery store; or when you need to move to a safer environment as you age, your quality of life and health may suffer. H.O.M.E. helps low-income seniors meet the basic needs that sustain their independence and keep them connected to their communities.
Our programs are needed now more than ever. Will you consider supporting H.O.M.E. today?
Your donation will bring practical support to low-income seniors. There is no other organization in the City of Chicago that provides housing and housing support services to low-income seniors. Your gift will do more than give someone a safe place to call home. Your gift will foster joy, hope, and independence for low-income seniors. That is a priceless gift.
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