the babies are booming!

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Images from the 1950s. The young women of today could learn a thing or two about fashion from the 1950s.

What is a Boomer?

If you were born between 1946 and 1964 (like my parents), then you already know you too are affectionally referred to as a baby boomer. According to the Center for Housing Policy, there were 76.4 million of you born.

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United States birth rates per 1000 population. The magenta depicts the birth peak between 1946 and 1964.

Boomers were born into a life that looked past the war and towards the future: corporations were growing larger and more profitable, consumer goods were more abundant and more affordable than ever before, and owning a home was becoming more tangible. The suburbs began to sprawl like wildfire in the 1950s and the use of mass produced inexpensive tract houses, along with the G.I. Bill, helped make single-family homes with white-picket fences accessible to all. 

But boomers are all grown up now! In 2012, 40 million Americans were aged 65+. By 2050 that number is predicted to increase to 120% to 88 million. I can’t believe that 10,000 people turn 65 every day—that’s a lot of birthday cake!!

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The Demand for Affordable Housing

The demand for housing baby boomers is changing dramatically. But not everyone has the option of the white picket fence. Of those age 65+, 40% are very low income. On average, older adults tend to spend over half their income on housing. Food and healthcare require another chunk of income, leaving little for other important things in life.

A 2009 study conducted by the City of Longmont focused on a needs assessment for housing and homeless found that there was a very strong need in the community for “deeply subsidized rental housing, particularly units for those earning 40% AMI (average median income) and below.”

Our Contribution

One of the reasons I sought to join the WORKSHOP8 crew was for their experience in affordable housing. WORKSHOP8 has worked with multiple Housing Authorities to create quality housing for those who don’t have the means to hire an architect to design their dream house.

Earlier this year, we working with Boulder County Housing Authority (BCHA) on the Lyons Recovery Housing which was unfortunately not approved by the voters. Mariposa Phase VI for the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) is currently under construction and will be a mixed-income, mixed-age project. Next month Spring Creek, for the Longmont Housing Authority (LHA), will break ground brining 60 affordable, senior housing units to renters age 55 and over.

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Spring Creek is designed to encourage an active living environment for residents. The design includes active and quiet fitness spaces, outdoor communal gathering spaces with views of the Rockies, an outdoor walking circuit and parkour station, as well as outdoor game areas and community garden beds all provide the platform for a healthy lifestyle. Spring Creek will serve residents 30-40% AMI, an average of $23,555 annual income for one-person and an average of $26,950 for two people.

Many of Spring Creek’s residents will be displaced flood residents from the 2013 floods. Housing prices went up over the past year with the demand for displaced residents searching for housing. One such resident who was displaced from Lyons now lives in LHA’s Hearthstone community, 75 year old Agnes Brown. Extremely limited housing, as well as the  failed post-flood redevelopment in Lyons pushed Agnes to Longmont. Although her new apartment is smaller than her last, it’s affordable and it’s hers.

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Agnes in her new apartment in Longmont. Photo by the Daily Camera. Find the full article here.

Why it is Important

LHA has worked vigorously throughout Longmont to ensure that “low and moderate income residents of Longmont have safe, decent and affordable housing.” Together with the Longmont Housing Development Corporation (LHDC), 11 combined programs and residential properties are managed. When the Hearthstone project opened in January 2013, the 60-unit residence filled up within 60 days and had a waiting list of over 150 people!

Agnes says “I have enough money left over to go out with the girls if I want to. I wasn’t able to do that before because the rent was too much.” And that’s the whole point! We want to provide the baby boomers with the best, most affordable housing so that they can save money for the things they want to do in life.

Senior housing needs are on the rise and will only go up from here. I am so thrilled to see Spring Creek Apartments start construction this summer. I look forward to the day I am able to see residents settling in to their new homes — and hope they may even have a good word to say about the people who designed and built it for them.

One Response to the babies are booming!
  • Nate Burger

    I really appreciate this post. Needless to say, the baby boomers really changed the housing market. Senior housing and affordable housing really has changed our lives.

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