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Utah seniors could see huge drop in affordable housing over next decade

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Posted at 1:05 PM, Apr 27, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — By 2030 one in five Americans will be over 65, but experts say that a severe shortage of affordable housing may lead in homelessness in the upcoming decade.

AARP Utah and the Utah Housing Coalition released a report on April 27, Preserving Affordable Housing Matters, that says the state could lose over 40 percent of its federally subsidized rental units for low-income seniors over the next 25 years, with over 15 percent lost by 2030.

If this remains unchanged, over 3000 senior households could face housing instability or homelessness; this map shows where affordable senior housing units are most at-risk.

“Ensuring older Utahns have access to affordable housing can help them stay in their home and their community safely, independently, and comfortably throughout their lives,” said AARP Utah State Director Alan Ormsby. “And as Utah’s population ages . . . AARP also supports policies and programs that preserve diverse housing options that are affordable to households of different income levels.”

AARP Utah and the Utah Housing Coalition recommends several steps to preserve senior housing, including the following:

1. Incorporate senior housing preservation into moderate-income housing plans.
2. Establish a dedicated source of funding for senior housing preservation.
3. Adopt age-friendly zoning codes.
4. Implement a one-year notification requirement for expiring subsidized units to allow seniors to find alternative housing before they are displaced.

Almost all older adults in this country--nearly 90 percent, according to an AARP survey--want to remain in their current home as long as possible, but housing is the largest expense for most people.

”We want our policy makers to be aware that in the last eight years senior homelessness has tripled from 763 in 2011 to 2,170 in 2019. We will only see this statistic increased if we do not preserve and build more affordable housing for senior Utahns,” said Tara Rollins, Executive Director of the Utah Housing Coalition.