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Can You Dig It

Is age-restricted housing on the way out for younger generations?

Traditions of America at Hanover is an example of one of the active adult communities found throughout the Valley.
Traditions of America at Hanover is an example of one of the active adult communities found throughout the Valley.

Who will live in the 55-and-older communities once the baby boomers pass on?

It’s a worthwhile question to consider as age-restricted housing remains a popular choice for people of that generation.

The point was raised by Becky Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, during a presentation Wednesday on the annual Build LV development report.

While there is nothing wrong with these developments, people from the Generation X and millennial generation do not prefer some of the same developments that baby boomers do, she said.

In its report, LVPC said the number of age-qualified housing units approved last year decreased significantly from 2015. Meanwhile, the number of apartments that were approved in 2016 more than doubled the 2015 total and hit a 10-year high. And the number of assisted living units also reached a 10-year-high of 217 in 2016.

Research shows that apartments also are attracting an older demographic as well as young professionals.

As a Gen-Xer, I prefer high density, walkable places to live where you don’t have to get in your car and drive anytime you want to go someplace. Being able to walk to a bank, library, restaurant, park or food store offers a wealth of benefits for people young and old.

Of course, there are senior housing developments designed this way, similar to condos or apartments, but there also are many more isolated single-family housing communities that are age-restricted and offer a different model or environment than what many people in upcoming generations are going to want to live in.

“There will be a huge vacancy rate,” Bradley said, regarding age-restricted housing.

“When the baby boomers are no longer with us, who will occupy those units?” she asked.

We will have to figure out how those units can be used differently.


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