Older Adults

Housing for Older Adults Overview

Like many communities across the country, Tucson’s population is aging. The 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) found a 20% increase in older adult households over the 2013 survey completed five years earlier.

There are almost 119,000 older adult households in the Tucson MSA, making up 29.4% of all households. In this study, a older adult household is one where the primary ACS respondent was age 65 or older; therefore, this definition may include households with family members younger than 65.

A recent renter versus owner analysis on the MAP dashboard found that older adult households in the Tucson MSA are more likely to own their homes. In fact, 81.2% of householders aged 65-74 and 82.9% of householders aged 75-84 own their home, the highest of any age bracket. According to the analysis, the renter share increases in the 85+ age group as older adults transition away from independent living.

Almost 31,000 older adult households in the Tucson MSA, or 26.0%, are at or below 50% area median income for two people. The table below details the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2018 Area Median Income (AMI) Limits for a two-person household, which is the most common size of older adult household in the Tucson MSA. According the the 2018 5-year ACS, the median income for a 2-person household (of any age) was $62,694.

HUD 2018 AMI Limits (2-person household)

Income Category AMI Percentage AMI Income Ranges
Extremely Low 0% - 30% $0 - $16,460
Very Low 30% - 50% $16,460 - $24,250
Low 50% - 80% $24,250 - $38,800
Low to Moderate 80% - 120% $38,800 - $58,200
Moderate to High more than 120% > $58,200

While income is not the only factor determining difficulty in finding affordable housing, the 5-year 2018 ACS data showed that 22.8% of older adult households in the Tucson MSA were housing cost burdened (as shown below). According to the Making Action Possible (MAP) dashboard, housing cost burden reflects those households that pay greater than 30% of their income on housing costs.

When compared to other peer Western metropolitan areas, the Tucson MSA has the third lowest percentage of housing cost burdened older adult households; only San Antonio and El Paso are lower. This data reveals that Tucson has more favorable housing cost conditions for its older adult population than other comparable metros.

Low-Income Older Adult Households by Census Tract

The geographic distribution of those lower income older adult households are shown below. Two Census tracts indicate more than 80% of older adult households in the tract have income below 50% AMI, while eight tracts show between 60%-80% of older adult households with annual income classified as very low or extremely low income (below 50% AMI) by the HUD. According to the Neighborhood Vulnerability Index , nearly all of these tracts with a large percentage of very low income older adult households are classified as most vulnerable, whereas a couple of the tracts are classified as more vulnerable.

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Housing Assistance for Low-Income Older Adults

There are a number of housing assistance programs available to seniors in the Tucson MSA. The table below shows the number of housing assistance units currently occupied by older adults (an older adult is defined by age 62 and over in this data). It is clear that most of the almost 31,000 older adult households with very low or extremely low annual income are not able to secure housing assistance. Moreover, there are an additional 20,000 older adult households in the Tucson MSA that fall in the "low income" HUD category of 50-80% AMI which do not qualify for housing assistance (LIHTC cutoff is 60% AMI, while the remaining programs have a 50% AMI cutoff).

Older Adults Using Housing Assistance

Type of Assistance Units Occupied by Older Adults
Section 202 1,398
Housing Choice Voucher 1,321
LIHTC (60% AMI to qualify) 1,302
Low Income Public Housing 564
Total 4,585

Older Adult Households by Census Tract

There also seems to be a correlation between higher concentrations of older adult households (designated older adult communities) and higher income older adult households. For example, the Green Valley area which has the census tracts with the highest proportion of older adult households is also an area with a low percentage of low income older adult households.

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Changes in Geographic Distribution of Older Adult Households by Census Tract

The map below shows the percent change of older adult households between the 5-year 2013 ACS data and the 5-year 2018 ACS data. Older adult geographic preferences appear to be changing, as areas with a high older adult population generally saw less growth among this demographic. There are several possible explanations including: 1. There is already a saturation of housing availability in the most popular locations for older adults in the Tucson MSA and 2. As other cities have seen, there may be an interest in being located closer to downtown and more services. This means older adult households may be moving to these locations or choosing to remain in central neighborhoods to age-in-place.

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