AARP: 96% of Low-Income 50+ Homeowners Burdened by Housing Costs

Housing costs are becoming more burdensome for older adults, especially for renters and those who haven’t paid off their mortgages, finds AARP’s State Housing Profiles 2011 report.

The report tracks housing costs for older adults between 2000 and 2009, and shows an increase, often unsustainable, in the amount homeowners are forced to spend on housing.

For example, 96% of homeowners age 50+ with mortgages who have incomes under $23,000, pay more than a sustainable amount in housing costs, and that is also true for 67% of those with incomes up to $47,000, says AARP.

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Housing costs pose a significant burden for homeowners still paying their mortgages, and nearly half 65+ homeowners, at 48%, spend at least 30% of their incomes on housing, which qualifies them as “burdened.”

The number of 50+ homeowners who own their homes outright dropped to 38% in 2009, down from 40% in 2000. And, while a majority of 65+ homeowners, at 54%, own their homes free and clear, 26% are still saddled with mortgage payments.

“Although many older people desire to age in place, rising property taxes, utilities and maintenance costs or falling incomes may make that goal more difficult,” said Rodney Harrell, from AARP Public Policy Institute, in a report summary.

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These senior homeowners are more likely to be retired and to have lower incomes, said Harrell, which makes housing costs that much more of a burden. Even homeowners without mortgages can be burdened, as costs for 17% of those 65 and older are considered past the threshold of housing cost burden.

The report lists characteristics and housing cost burdens state by state, and also gives data for federally subsidized housing for seniors, including Section 202 and Section 8 low income rental units and housing tax credit properties.

View AARP’s State Housing Profiles 2011 here.

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Written by Alyssa Gerace