Why the Housing Studies Center Calls Itself the ‘Center for Doom and Gloom’

Just a few weeks ago, a very prominent person referred to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies as “The Joint Center for Doom and Gloom.”  So who is this negative person? Answer: it’s Christopher Herbert, the center’s own managing director. The reason is that the future state of housing for boomers as we move into our late 60’s and beyond is gloomy indeed, if you’re looking for a landscape of seniors mostly living alone.   

In fifteen years, 20% of the population will be 65 or older, and we boomers aren’t in the same financial state our parents were when they reached that threshold. Right now, 30% of those 65 and older spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and 70% of Americans in their 50s and early 60s are still paying off mortgages. Housing is now and will continue to be a huge drain on our income – to the point of forcing us to skimp on essentials like food and medical care, if we insist on living alone.

We’re going to need to plan for the next years in terms of where we are now – not where we expected we would be by the time we were entering our later years. Shared housing is going to be a choice that is increasingly preferred – which is good, since living with others not only saves expenses and eases the work of maintaining a home, it certainly fosters independence and bolsters one’s social life. Not least important, as we’ve talked about in earlier posts on this blog, living with other women actually fosters better health and a longer life.  What could be better?


One thought on “Why the Housing Studies Center Calls Itself the ‘Center for Doom and Gloom’

  • September 3, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    This idea of sharing living quarters and expenses for women who are single and live alone is a truly a gift, a blessing. For some of us who dedicated our primary working years to raising a family only to discover we would be doing this job alone have been hit the hardest. Desperately needing to get out of an abusive marriage without legal representation I received no compensation for the years of service. Some women have done better off financially by staying, but the divorced women have barely lived above the poverty line. Although educated with a college degree from the early 80’s, I fall into this category.

    Starting back to school at 59 years of age is daunting. I live on SSI and have no choice but to update my skills and find employment. I hope this program “Roommates For Boomers” is alive and thriving. When I have an income and able to contribute to a shared housing opportunity, I will be coming to you for help. Since 2012, I have existed on government welfare. I have never been in this situation and have never known anyone who has had to use food stamps and government money. In a million years, I would never have believed I would be where I am today. It is frightening and unsettling. I am thankful for the services I receive, however I do not want to live in this manner forever. It is not really living, it is existing.

    God bless the boomers who are actively finding ways to enhance this large group of people who are retiring during such uncertain times and certainly different times than our own parents. This site may very well be a life line for many. I will be for me. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for giving me a place to say what I am concerned about as a boomer.

    My best, Sandra LaPlante


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