ULI Washington News

Aging but Still Booming: Housing the Next Big Wave

By Leslie Braunstein

Housing the “gray tsumani” of aging baby boomers –call them “seniors” at your own peril – was the subject of a concurrent session at the ULI Washington Real Estate Trends conference.

John K. McIlwain, ULI senior resident fellow/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing, kicked off the panel by summarizing his detailed study Housing in America: The Baby Boomers Turn 65. Todd Harff of Creating Results, David Mayhood of The Mayhood Company, Bozzuto Management Company’s Julie Smith, and Perkins Eastman’s Dan Cinelli made the following observartions:

  • When the over-65 generation says they want to “age in place,” what they really mean is that they don’t want to live in an institution. Many are ready and eager to move.
  • Our culture is defining a new time of life after the children have left the nest; the baby boom cohort is the first to fully take advantage of this “second adulthood.”
  • Local zoning regulations must be adjusted for increasingly converging uses, such as age-restricted housing on college campuses, allowing public use of high school libraries and other facilities, providing living space for caretakers, etc.
  • Today’s CCRCs (continuing care retirement communities) emerged from a health care model; why not use a hospitality model instead? Unbundling the care element from housing allows development of more affordable options.
  • The boomers are such a large and diverse cohort that there are opportunities to create many different types of housing, such as co-housing, affinity group living, and other niches.
  • Bozzuto’s research shows that older residents have twice the income as younger renters, use onsite amenities extensively, adore their pets, and like a walkable urban environment – but not one that’s “gritty.”
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