May is an exciting time for us! It’s Older Americans Month, a time for us to come together and celebrate the seniors in our lives while promoting their well-being and involvement in society. It’s also Affordable Housing Month, which raises awareness about the need for more affordable housing and to highlight existing efforts to make housing accessible.
As an affordable housing provider that serves predominantly seniors, we at Embrace Living Communities (ELC) hold both these observations dear because seniors in particular are in need of homes where they can age with dignity amid an affordable housing shortage.
Providing Affordable Senior Housing
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, about a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Though this number has improved, poverty increased among Americans age 65 and older from 8.9% in 2020 to 10.3% in 2021, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s almost 5 million individuals struggling to meet their basic needs.
In addition, the need for affordable housing is great. According to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of over seven million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low income renters, making it nearly impossible for them to find stable housing. The report also states that there are only 35 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low income renters, indicating a serious gap in the market.
Rising senior poverty levels combined with an affordable housing shortage epidemic means that older Americans are in dire need of homes. We are addressing this by supporting 2,500 residents at 30 communities with our eyes on expansion. Housing is a human right, and nobody deserves to be homeless. Anything we can do to help address this crisis is a matter of justice.
Facilitating Healthy Aging through Housing
One key focus of Older Americans Month is to promote healthy aging. As people age, they face many challenges, including health problems and social isolation, which can significantly affect their quality of life. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that nearly half of all Americans age 60 or older suffer from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety disorder each year.
At ELC, we are addressing these concerns by providing social services support that includes comprehensive health and wellness resources and programming for residents at our communities, many of which specifically address mental health. Studies have shown that social activity, exercise, mindfulness and hobbies can all improve mental health for people of all ages, and our programming provides seniors the opportunity to participate in all of these activities.
Affordable housing is a major public health issue because it directly impacts the physical and mental well-being of seniors. As people age, their need for safe and secure living environments increases in order to maintain their overall health.
Helping the Community
Affordable senior housing benefits the entire communities that these properties are embedded in. Affordable housing can help to revitalize communities by providing a stable foundation for residents who are able to remain in an area for a longer time. By doing so, senior affordable housing supports neighborhood stability, which can contribute to the economic and social development of an area.
Affordable senior housing can also help combat age segregation by creating diverse communities, where seniors can mingle with people of all ages and backgrounds. ELC offers a program called “Embracing Generations” that helps promote this benefit of affordable senior housing by pairing communities with local students for the sake of helping seniors socialize and build real friendships with neighbors younger than them.
Affordable senior housing is needed now as much as ever, and we’re proud to be a part of the solution. This Older Americans Month and Affordable Housing Month, we aim to shed light on this pressing issue and help fellow advocates find ways to support older Americans in need of affordable housing.
One way you can do so is by giving to an affordable senior housing provider such as ELC. You can also volunteer with a provider to make sure that the seniors that have found homes they can afford can live well with their needs met and well-being promoted.
Feel free to contact us for any future resident, current resident, or general inquiries.