On June 16, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies released its 2017 State of the Nation's Housing report. The report, which has been released annually since 1988, describes key trends in both national and metro-level homeownership and rental markets, and reviews key economic and demographic trends that are shaping current and future demand in those markets. It also examines ongoing challenges in housing affordability, the rise of concentrated poverty throughout metro areas, and issues related to mortgage finance.

Among significant findings for non-profits seeking to meet the needs of seniors, particularly low- to moderate-income seniors:

  • Despite a strong rebound in multifamily construction in recent years, the rental vacancy rate hit a 30-year low in 2016. Construction has significantly increased the number of high-end rental units in the last decade, but the number of low-cost rental units has fallen. (interactive chart).
  • While the number of cost-burdened households (those paying more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing) declined in 2015, nearly 19 million US households (more than half of them renters) still paid more than half of their incomes for housing (map+data tables). 
  • By 2035, 50 million households—one out of every three—will be headed by older adults, which will greatly increase the demand for new and modified units that meet the needs of aging adults (pp. 18).
  • Although 17 million households include at least one person with an ambulatory disability, only 1 percent of the nation’s housing stock has five critical accessibility features (pp. 36-37).
  • The baby-boom generation will drive up investment in the existing housing stock as they modify their homes to accommodate their changing needs. While most are likely to remain in their current homes, some baby boomers will seek different housing options as they transition into old age. Although many of these households have the financial resources to support a range of housing options, millions of older households will be of modest means. Meeting the growing need for housing that is accessible, affordable and well-integrated into communities will require concerted efforts by the private and public sectors alike.
  • the largest and fastest increases in poverty have occurred in medium-density areas outside urban core areas, in low density areas on the urban fringe, and in rural areas (pp. 6, 17) + interactive chart).

Download the report and access interactive maps and tools here.