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April 13, 2014

N.H. housing survey reveals generational mismatches

Seniors keeping their own homes longer, younger adults shy from homeownership

A new study concludes there’s a mismatch in New Hampshire between existing housing and housing preferences among generations.

The report from New Hampshire Housing, examining future housing needs, concludes seniors are staying in their homes longer, by choice or for financial reasons.

That poses elder service concerns.

“Rural locations will make the delivery of services that help seniors age in place more difficult, while the design of traditional New England homes exacerbate mobility challenges,” New Hampshire Housing said in announcing the findings.

Meanwhile, younger adults are less interested in the big, suburban homes coveted by baby boomers, showing a preference for mixed-use communities and urban settings, the study said.

“New Hampshire young professionals interviewed for Housing Needs in New Hampshire showed some interest in rural living, but are concerned about the availability of jobs in those areas and showed an overall wariness toward home ownership,” the agency said.

High student debt and low wage growth are factors in the way they feel about housing, the study found.

“New Hampshire Housing and other public and private organizations will use the data collected through this study to better identify needs and establish priorities for housing and other programs,” said the agency’s executive director, Dean Christon, in releasing the study.

Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission executive director David Preece said the report highlights both the problem with a lack of affordable housing and the inability of aging baby boomers to leave their homes.

“My neighborhood is seeing a doubling up of young people in bigger houses,” Preece said.

They are sharing homes, while renting a bedroom, he said.

He foresees a potential for two or three families to occupy larger homes.

“You may see baby boomers not only being caregivers for their parents, but babysitters to their children in the same house,” he said.

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