Philadelphia has the largest senior population amongst all major U.S. cities. But North Philadelphia's 19132 zip code is one of the poorest zip codes in the city. In fact, according to Census data, around 40% of residents here live below the poverty line, with an average household income of 50% less than the city average. Not surprising then that as Philadelphia's residents get older, there is real concern over housing and seniors having suitable accommodation that meets their needs.
Philly's housing stock not fit for purpose
Americans are now healthier and living longer; therefore, more now want to stay in their own homes and age in place. However, many U.S. houses were not designed with older occupants in mind and problems exist such as too many steps, inaccessible bathrooms to very narrow doorways. Over half of Philadelphia’s housing is over 60 years old, so for many older people they need to find alternatives.
Assisted living facilities easing the burden of senior accommodation
While there are assisted living facilities popping up across Philly, many Americans over the age of 50 don’t have the appropriate skillset or resources to find themselves the appropriate housing they need as they get older. Senior living facilities offer residents the opportunity to live amongst a similar aged community and not have to worry about receiving care if they struggle to look after themselves as they get older. These communities are equipped with staff that are medically trained to provide care as soon as required.
Philadelphia falls behind
But even with more assisted living facilities being built in Philadelphia, compared to the rest of the country, the city falls behind with building new senior housing, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. With less development activity, the housing stock that is built goes quickly, and often has extensive waiting lists. Senior-housing rents are also considerably higher too. For many seniors, they have to contemplate rent and mortgage at a time when they hadn't expected to start to.
There is help available
To combat financial burdens and to allow more seniors to stay at home, government and non-profit organizations provide help. These include:
- The City of Philadelphia can put a freeze on real estate taxes for seniors who qualify.
- The Longtime Owner Occupants Program offers a tax discount to older adults who have lived in their homes for over a decade.
- The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Senior Housing Assistance Repair Program arranges minor home repairs for seniors.
- The Philadelphia Housing Development Corp.'s Adaptive Modifications Program supports disabled seniors to be able to stay at home by making appropriate modifications to their property.