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Jodi Raffa has been searching for a roommate for over a year. Her husband passed away five years ago, and compounding her loss was a 75 percent reduction in her household income.
The 76-year-old lives in a sunny three-bedroom, two-bathroom home overlooking a lake in a 55-and-over community in Groveland, Fla. "I live on a very strict budget and am not able to indulge in any extras at all,” said Raffa, who worked in administrative jobs before she and her late husband retired in 2010. Raffa now views that move as a “hasty decision” in light of her financial circumstances.
In an 1987 interview with NPR, the late Betty White noted that the four women who lived together in “The Golden Girls” did so for social reasons rather than financial necessity. “All that I think we have accomplished is to show that there is an alternative lifestyle,” White told “Fresh Air ” about the success of the show. “If you notice, ‘The Golden Girls’ are not together for economic reasons. They’re together for sociological reasons. It combats the loneliness.”
Four decades later, the idea of housemates late into adulthood is experiencing a revival, but with financial factors front and center. As boomers live longer and retire without the financial safety net of employer-sponsored pensions, covering the rising costs of food, housing and insurance become major considerations. Linda Hoffman, president and CEO of the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens, which runs a home-sharing program , noted an increasing number of applications as finances become more of a stressor.
Even before the pandemic, demographics were shifting toward nonfamily households. In 1960, 85 percent of households were composed of families, according to the Population Reference Bureau. By 2017, that figure had fallen to 65 percent of households.
As Americans continue to age, Harrell and others expect growing demand for more housing options. “As a society, we’ve been building and thinking about younger families and building housing and communities for younger people,” he said.
The growing interest in home sharing, especially for those boomers who are house-rich and cash-poor in expensive housing markets, is being cultivated by nonprofit and commercial programs as well as municipalities. Since 2015, New York, Seattle, Denver, Tucson, Northern California and the metro Washington area all have established or are launching programs.
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Boomers getting hit financially leaving more stress on housing market and economy
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