On the one hand, some families have a level of choice in the face of housing and income constraints. A Pew report finds that when families move in together multi-generationally, financial burden may be eased. On the other hand, high and largely non-negotiable housing costs for older renters and owners can lead to health woes and food insecurity. Minnesota is hardly exempt, as we see in an AARP report. Another report looks at homelessness among vets, including data for Minnesota. Lastly, check out a useful summary of policy ideas for sustainability for housing development and preservation.
Great Recession Has Led to Rise in Multi-Generational Households
The number of Americans living in multi-generational households increased by 10.5% between 2007 and 2009, according to the Pew Research Center. In the face of economic woes, multi-generational households create an important informal safety net. The report found strikingly lower poverty rates among multi-generational households (11.5%) than in all other households (14.6%) in 2009. Those most economically vulnerable experienced the greatest reductions in poverty through multi-generational living. For example, unemployed people in multi-generational households experienced a poverty rate of 17.5%, compared to 30.3% for the unemployed living in other types of households. In addition, economic gains of multi-generational living were found to be especially important for Hispanics, Blacks and immigrants. Multi-generational households are defined as two adult generations, three or more generations, or a skipped generation, such as a grandparent and a grandchild, living together. Study findings are bolstered by another data release from the Census Bureau that finds that the proportion of young adults aged 25 to 34 living in their parents' home increased markedly from 2005 to 2011.
Minnesota Not Easy for Older Renters
The AARP recently released State Housing Profiles 2011, which describe housing and demographic conditions for homeowners and renters age 50 and older. Included in the profiles is a variety of data on type of housing, cost burden, mortgages, and subsidized housing. While on most measures Minnesota ranks somewhere in the middle compared to other states, there are a few exceptions. Notably, among Minnesota renters aged 50 and older, 29% were paying half or more of their income for housing in 2009. On this measure, Minnesota ranks as the 9th worst state in the nation.
The Housing Crisis: Making Older Homeowners Sick?
A new study in the American Journal of Public Health of homeowners aged 50 and older found that those falling behind on their mortgage payments in the previous two years suffered serious health consequences. The study, which compared outcomes for those who fell at least two months behind on their mortgage payments to those who did not, found higher rates of new depressive symptoms and less access to adequate food among those delinquent on payments over the two year study period. In addition, the delinquent homeowners were far more likely to report not being able to take medications properly for cost reasons. Not surprisingly, the delinquent group also had poorer health statuses and less access to health resources at the beginning of the study. While delinquency in mortgage payments may itself have led to poorer health outcomes, underlying conditions might have led to both the delinquency and health changes, the authors note. The study followed individuals from 2006 to 2008.
Veterans Account for 8% of Minnesota's Homeless
HUD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released the second annual supplement to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), which details the extent of homelessness among veterans in the United States. According to this report, veterans are overrepresented in the homeless population. Point-in-time estimates show that on a single night in January 2010, there were more than 76,000 homeless veterans nationally, a 1% increase from 2009. 43% of the homeless veterans were living on the streets, in cars, or in other places not meant for human habitation. For Minnesota, the point-in-time estimate was 644 homeless veterans, which accounted for about 8% of the homeless population in the state.
Policy Options for Sustainable Housing: New Ideas
A new series of briefs from the Center for Housing Policy describes policy options that support the creation and preservation of affordable and mixed-income housing in neighborhoods where families can walk, bike, use public transit, or drive relatively short distances to meet daily needs. The three briefs highlight the different tools available at the local, regional, and state levels. Local planning departments and city council members, for example, exercise the most direct control over land use and zoning policies, while regional entities such as metropolitan planning organizations and councils of government, can support sound planning and coordination. States also have a role to play through targeted financial support and enabling legislation.