Hot Housing Markets Pinch Seniors

Decline in homeownership among older people leaves them susceptible to rent hikes.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Jennifer Levitz, Laura Kusisto
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
March 31, 2016

Tags: Housing: Affordability, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto (CLSEPA)


More than 6.1 million people age 65 and older rented their primary residences in 2014, up 29% from 2001, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. While the 79% homeownership rate for people 65 and older is the highest of any age group, the rate is down significantly since the housing boom, when homeownership among seniors peaked at nearly 82%. Many seniors who lost homes in the housing crash will be renting for the rest of their lives, because they have less time than younger households to recover financially.

With fewer seniors owning homes and having fixed mortgage payments, they have become susceptible to rent increases, particularly in high-demand areas. In San Mateo County, just south of San Francisco, where Ms. Plymale lives, more than 54,000 new jobs have been created since 2010, but only about 2,100 new housing units have been built in that time, according to the county. In the past four years, monthly rent for two-bedroom apartments in highly marketable multifamily buildings surged nearly 52%, to an average topping $2,800.