The average income of older Americans has increased rapidly over the past few decades, but many seniors continue to struggle financially. Fourteen percent of older adults—6.5 million people in 2013—do not have enough income to meet their needs, and the problem is worse for vulnerable populations. Although health care costs dominate the debate about older adults’ needs, these adults spend much more on housing than on health care. In fact, in 2013 households headed by retirement-age seniors spent 28 percent of their incomes on housing—more than twice as much as they spent on health care. The burden of housing costs combined with climbing health care expenses can significantly reduce financial security at older ages.
Drawing on expertise in affordable housing, Social Security, Medicare, and aging, Urban experts are examining the link between housing and health care for older adults. We look for ways to align housing and health services to better serve low-income seniors and recommend policy solutions that ensure seniors can afford both housing and health care.