The End Result of Too Little Affordable Housing
I recently watched an investigative report on how Bay Area folks are coping with the lack of affordable housing. It showed how some are now living in illegal units, converted garages, or even some living in their cars. The story introduced viewers to a well-educated young entrepreneur with lots of energy who struggles to find work that will pay her enough to afford a decent apartment. In the story, she rents a 10’ by 10’ office space for $300 per month, and in the evening sleeps in that same space. My mind, of course, thinks of seniors who are also deeply affected by the crisis but they are hit with a triple whammy.
Imagine a 20-something or 30-something like the single woman in the televised news story. Or maybe a person of color experiencing many employment challenges and struggling in substandard housing. Maybe a mobility challenged person in a wheelchair who never found a decent job and lived in the basement of friends.
Now – take all of those cases, hundreds of thousands of them, and add 40 years to their age. Now they are 70 years old with a few physical infirmities and some pill bottles to pay for and keep organized. Now it is a bit harder to climb up on the bus, or understand your Medicare statement. These important members of our society may very well never have secured that job they hoped for, they may have lived with their parents for way too long, they may have already shared a basement with two others as they struggled to make ends meet these last 40 years. It has been hard for 40 years, and it will get much harder for each and every one.
Add to this challenge the staggering problem of the aging and retiring Baby Boomers. With 10,000 people turning 65 every day we are heading from a current number of 40 million seniors to a stunning demographic trend of 80 million seniors.
Oh yes – one more item. When the government (Federal, state & city) tried to speak to the notion of senior housing in 1970’s & 80’s we now find that these properties are 40-50 years old and they too are aging, closing down, and being sold.
There you have it – seniors are being slammed from 3 directions at the same time:
- Their own personal infirmities and challenges from a lifetime of struggle
- 80 million seniors create a terribly unfulfilled demand for quality affordable housing
- What resources we have are rapidly declining and not being replaced at a comparable rate
The point of the investigative report was to highlight that many cities are required to create plans to meet housing needs but there are no sanctions or consequences when it does not actually build enough, or any at all. The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development is looking at ways to incentivize cities to build more but it takes time, funding and cooperation.
As taxpaying citizens we need to keep pushing for legislation enabling organizations like CCH to build more affordable housing. I remain hopeful that we will soon see actions being taken to enable struggling folks to find More Than A Home.
Don Stump, President/CEO