The number of senior households—those headed by someone age 65 or older—will explode over the next 20 years, increasing from 34 million to 48 million between 2020 and 2040. Although the senior homeownership rate will remain high at 73 percent, that’s much lower than it has historically been, producing an unprecedented number of senior renters, particularly among Black households.

The nation’s current housing policy is not equipped for this sharp rise in senior renters, but changes to federal policies, programs, and funding priorities can better prepare communities to accommodate this large increase.

Between 1990 and 2020, the number of senior households increased at an average pace of 4 million per decade. But as Gen Xers and baby boomers age, this pace will increase by 50 percent, averaging 6.9 million new senior households per decade over the next two decades.

More than half of the 13.8 million new senior households between 2020 and 2040 will be nonwhite households: 3.5 million will be Hispanic households, 1.5 million will be households of other racial or ethnic groups, and 2.2 million will be Black households.

Senior renters are more likely to be cost burdened than their homeowning counterparts, with over half currently spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent and close to a quarter spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent. Senior Black and Hispanic renters, who have much lower incomes and less wealth than their white counterparts, driven by decades of disparate treatment, are especially likely to be cost burdened in the years ahead.

Federal policymakers can accommodate the coming surge of senior renters, particularly nonwhite households, who will need more affordable, senior-friendly housing in the next two decades. Failure to do so will cause unnecessary crises and suffering for one of our most vulnerable populations.

Read the full article about senior renters by Laurie Goodman and Jun Zhu at Urban Institute.