Senior Housing Occupancy Falls At Fastest Rates Since April

Senior housing occupancy rates last month fell at their fastest pace since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Assisted living occupancy, notably, fell 170 basis points to 82.9%, according to the latest intra-quarterly report from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s (NIC) NIC MAP data service. That is near a record low.

Occupancy in independent living communities also fell, although not as steeply as assisted living. The occupancy rate for majority independent living communities decreased 80 basis points to end July at 88.1%, also near a record low.

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The acceleration marked a reversal from June, when it appeared as though the industry had weathered the storm wrought from the pandemic’s early weeks. After precipitous drop-offs in late March and April, occupancies appeared to stabilize in May and June across all care levels, as well as skilled nursing, and move-ins gained in frequency as shelter-in-place orders were eased.

The rate of decline varied among the 31 primary markets tracked by NIC. San Jose, California remained the strongest market for majority independent living and majority assisted living, at 93.2% and 87.5%, respectively. But states where positive coronavirus cases have surged such as Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Texas and southern California saw occupancy rates adversely affected.

NIC does not have statistical analysis to bear out the correlation, but Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace noted to Senior Housing News that the idea makes sense.

Houston recorded the lowest occupancy rate among majority independent living communities at 81.9% in July. That is actually an improvement, year over year, but the market continues to struggle with excessive supply.

Among majority assisted living communities, San Antonio held the rear at 75%. It was followed by Atlanta at 78.5% and Phoenix at 78.6%.

“Notably, stabilized occupancy for Phoenix is down 8.8 pps from year-earlier levels for AL, the most of any market,” the report stated.

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