Nearly 1 in 3 older adult households had severe housing problems, largely driven by the high cost of housing. Geographic disparities in severe housing problems put vulnerable older adults at increased risk based on where they lived.

Severe housing problems

Definition: Percentage of one- to two-person households with an adult ages 62 and older with at least one of the following problems: lack of complete kitchen facilities, lack of plumbing facilities, overcrowding or cost-burdened occupants.
In 2013-17, 32.7% of older adult households had severe housing problems, with the most common problem being cost-burdened — defined as spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing. In California, New Jersey and New York, more than 40.0% of older adult households experienced severe housing problems.
Severe housing problems varied greatly by state. In 2013-17, the percentage of older adult households with severe housing problems was 2.5 times higher in New Jersey (45.1%) than in West Virginia (18.3%).
Among older adults, cost-burdened renters may be more likely to enter a nursing home, and being cost-burdened may be a better predictor of entering a nursing home in the next three years than perceived health status, physical capacity and mental health. In addition, cost-burdened older adults may sacrifice spending on other needs, such as spending less on food and health care expenses, than those with more affordable housing, according to the Joint Center For Housing Studies of Harvard University.

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