A Quiet Crisis in America: Meeting the Affordable Housing Needs of the Invisible Low-Income Healthy Seniors

43 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2008

See all articles by Patricia Salkin

Patricia Salkin

Touro University - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Date Written: December 15, 2008


With the rapid increase in the senior population due to the aging of the baby boomers, communities can no longer rely on federal and state government programs to deliver the necessary affordable housing stock to meet demands. Federal subsidized housing programs simply cannot add enough units to their stock to meet demand. And while other federal, state and local programs may offer limited financial assistance aimed at keeping seniors in their own homes, these efforts lack a focus on the production of affordable dwelling units or on methods designed to convert existing housing stock into more affordable options for seniors. Fortunately, this deficiency may be creatively and, perhaps more appropriately, addressed at the local government level through the exercise of existing planning and zoning authority. Part I of this article discusses population statistics in greater detail, exploring available financial demographics of seniors and showing that many seniors are likely to be in need of affordable housing today, and that many more will likely join this group in the future. Part II discusses the role of the federal and state governments in providing affordable senior housing and concludes that these programs have typically failed to yield effective results on a wide enough basis. Part III focuses on the impact that local governments can have immediately in helping to address the affordable senior housing crisis through the use of planning and land use regulatory authority. The article concludes in Part IV with a call for the federal and state governments to further incentivize local governments to provide front-line relief in the quest for affordable senior housing. This may, in the end, produce the quickest, most efficient and most cost effective solution to a crisis that started quietly but is about to explode with a big bang.

Keywords: seniors, elderly, senior housing, affordable housing, zoning, accessory dwelling units, low income seniors, baby boomers

JEL Classification: I139, K11, K39, R21, R31, R52

Suggested Citation

Salkin, Patricia E., A Quiet Crisis in America: Meeting the Affordable Housing Needs of the Invisible Low-Income Healthy Seniors (December 15, 2008). Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law Policy, Vol. 15, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1316471

Patricia E. Salkin (Contact Author)

Touro University - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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