The number of Americans over the age of 80 is set to double in the next two decades, with the head of one in three U.S. households to be over the age of 65 by 2035, Curbed reported, citing a new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies that calls on developers, policy makers and design professionals to explore new ways to meet this group’s housing and accessibility needs.
The report, Projections and Implications for Housing a Growing Population: Older Households 2015-2035, notes that a mere 1% of the current housing stock offers features such as zero-step entrances, single-floor plans, wide halls and doorways that can accommodate a wheelchair, lever-handles and electronic controls.
- Policies and housing types that support independent living are also key going forward, the report said, noting that 17 million adult households by 2035 will include at least one person with a mobility-related disability.
Homebuilders continue to be optimistic about the potential for new housing and renovation demands among this group. The National Association of Home Builders 55+ Housing Market Index jumped two points in the third quarter to a mark of 59, the 10th-straight quarter the index came in above the break-even mark of 50.
A survey earlier this year from CBRE found that senior housing occupancy in 2015 was at the highest level since 2007, when it posted record sales and institutional transactions.
However, the JCHS report notes that traditional senior housing facilities aren’t the only area of demand. Rather, age-restricted housing like senior-only projects are poised to hit half a million units in 2016. Multigenerational housing — despite a recent AIA report that had the sector flat among residential architecture firms in the third quarter — is expected to grow, as well as desires to age in place.
In response, homebuilders like D.R. Horton are finding ways to better attract older adults with smaller-footprint, lower-maintenance homes in the active adult category. This summer, the company launched its Freedom Homes brand of age-restricted communities in Houston, with more markets to come this year.
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