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Mel Martinez: Affordable housing, quality healthcare can let seniors age in place

Miami Herald

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It’s time to focus on the public policies that will move America forward. One area that holds great bipartisan promise is more tightly connecting healthcare with the home to support America’s rapidly aging population. In fact, bridging the health-housing divide is more urgent than ever.

As highlighted in a recent report by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s, the United States stands unprepared for the demographic transformation now under way. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and above will exceed 74 million by 2030. In less than 15 years, more than one in five Americans will be a senior.

Florida is riding the crest of the aging wave. At 17.3 percent, Florida has the highest percentage of residents 65 and older than any other state and ranks second only to California as the one with the largest senior population. By 2030, the number of Florida seniors is projected to rise to 7.77 million, more than doubling the number in 2010 and accounting for about 27 percent of the Sunshine State’s total population.

It’s no secret that South Florida, in particular, suffers from an acute shortage of affordable homes, a fact that contributes to high housing costs. One recent survey found that Miami ranks fourth nationally on a list of the most cost-burdened communities, with more than 19 percent of residents spending at least half their monthly incomes on rent or mortgage payments. According to another study, more than 35 percent of renters in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro region were “severely” burdened by housing costs.

KEYWORDS: BPC OP-EDS, MEL MARTINEZ, SENIOR HEALTH AND HOUSING TASK FORCE, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU