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  • - [Narrator] This chart shows median net worth

  • by generation in the US

  • and it's what many people think of

  • when they refer to boomers as the wealthiest generation,

  • but that's only part of the story.

  • As a whole, they hold about half of US wealth,

  • much of it in real estate,

  • but that's mostly these boomers born between 1946 and 1954.

  • The younger boomers, on the other hand,

  • are increasingly struggling with homelessness.

  • Here's how boomers are exacerbating the housing shortage

  • and overwhelming local economies

  • as a record number of them age.

  • Around 80% of older boomers,

  • who are now mostly in their 70s, are homeowners.

  • - These are folks who are able to buy homes

  • when they were younger.

  • A lot of them have paid off their mortgages

  • and their homes have appreciated a lot

  • over the last few decades.

  • - [Narrator] Boomers own over 35%

  • of all large homes in the US.

  • Most of those homes belong to households

  • with no children living with them.

  • What's happening is that these older Americans

  • are increasingly choosing to age in place.

  • - They feel a connection to the community.

  • Financially, they might feel kind of stuck with their home.

  • You know, I already own this free and clear.

  • If I wanted to buy another home,

  • that new home is gonna cost a lot more.

  • - [Narrator] This trend of older homeowners

  • hanging onto their houses

  • is exacerbating the housing shortage

  • and contributing to rising home prices.

  • - It's especially acute of a problem right now

  • because millennials are at kind of a prime home buying

  • time in their lives,

  • and the millennial generation is a very large generation.

  • - [Narrator] California homeowners

  • typically stay put the longest.

  • - California has a very unique tax structure

  • where you're very much incentivized to stay where you are

  • because as long as you stay in your home,

  • your property taxes won't go up.

  • - [Narrator] Not all boomers

  • are holding onto their large homes.

  • Around 20% are selling,

  • but one reason this might not be making

  • as big of an impact on the housing shortage

  • is that boomers aren't really downsizing

  • with their new home,

  • so they're not increasing the supply

  • of large homes on the market.

  • - That could be driven by there not being a lot of good,

  • what we call starter home, or kinda smaller home options,

  • because in general, when builders are building,

  • they tend to be building larger and more expensive homes.

  • - [Narrator] At the same time,

  • younger boomers are driving up the number

  • of older homeless people in cities across the country.

  • - Elderly homelessness has been rare

  • since the reemergence of homelessness in the mid 1980s.

  • Usually it's been people in their 20s and 30s and 40s,

  • but now we're approaching close to 30%

  • of the adult homeless population are people 55 and over.

  • - [Narrator] This is partly due to the fact

  • that boomers are such a big cohort, and since the '80s,

  • they've made up the largest share

  • of the homeless population.

  • This chart shows how younger boomers specifically

  • have made up about a third

  • of the US homeless population for decades,

  • but a lot of boomers are also experiencing homelessness

  • for the first time as they've gotten older.

  • A 2023 UCSF study found that over 40%

  • of homeless older adults in California

  • were homeless for the first time after the age of 50.

  • For some, this was caused by a major life event

  • like the death of a spouse or a medical emergency.

  • For others, especially those living on social security,

  • it was due to high housing costs.

  • In Naples, Florida, for example,

  • there are more elderly homeless people

  • as social security payments

  • haven't kept up with rent increases.

  • There's also a significant number of people who worked jobs

  • that didn't contribute to social security,

  • so they're ineligible

  • for social security income in retirement.

  • - We see it very often in things like migrant labor,

  • construction, especially demolition,

  • high risk kind of jobs that are low skilled.

  • So instead, they get this program

  • called Supplemental Security Income,

  • which is around $950 a month right now.

  • - [Narrator] Homes at the very bottom of the market

  • have also been heavily affected

  • by the nationwide housing shortage.

  • - The supply of those marginal

  • but available housing options shrinks

  • in the context of a very hot real estate market

  • because even these properties

  • that were serving very low income people, hotels, motels,

  • the price is going up for those and the people wanna sell.

  • They wanna to convert,

  • knock down new buildings, what have you.

  • - [Narrator] Low cost assisted living centers,

  • which were never built in adequate numbers

  • to handle the large boomer generation,

  • have also been closing amid staffing shortages

  • and financial troubles.

  • Researchers estimate that in New York City alone,

  • healthcare and shelter costs

  • will surpass $450 million by 2030.

  • Academic researchers attribute

  • the different economic prospects

  • of the older and younger boomers

  • to something called the cohort effect,

  • which is the idea that people born in the same period

  • share unique experiences as they move across time.

  • - The older baby boomers in particular,

  • this is a generation that was coming of age

  • into an economy that was really booming.

  • - [Narrator] When they bought homes in the '70s or '80s,

  • home prices were low and interest rates were high.

  • - What happened right after that

  • was that you had four decades

  • where interest rates basically just fell.

  • That meant that even though they were entering

  • into home ownership at a time when rates were high,

  • they were able to refinance.

  • - [Narrator] The second half of the boomer generation

  • came of age during back-to-back recessions.

  • - They faced a very crowded housing market.

  • Prices were escalating.

  • Young adults in particular faced the challenge

  • of getting entry into the labor market.

  • - Jobs are hardly coming.

  • How about you? You hiring?

  • - [Narrator] The crack cocaine epidemic in the '80s

  • led many to struggle with homelessness.

  • - And that population has continued to be at risk

  • as they've gotten older.

  • - Sometimes if you miss a window by,

  • you know, even five years, 10 years,

  • you're looking at a very different housing market

  • or you're looking at a very different labor market

  • and it takes time to catch up.

  • - [Narrator] Over the next 10 years,

  • some researchers are counting on

  • what they call a silver tsunami,

  • a huge wave of housing inventory from baby boomers

  • aging out of their homes.

  • They say this would free up houses

  • for younger families to move into,

  • but other housing experts say that's unlikely to happen.

  • - If you are looking for inventory from that mechanism,

  • it's gonna be a trickle.

  • It's not gonna be like this big tsunami

  • that happens all of the sudden.

  • - [Narrator] By 2030, all boomers will have reached

  • traditional retirement age,

  • which researchers expect will only increase the pressure

  • on healthcare facilities and shelters.

  • - We need to fix the federal safety net.

  • The Biden administration,

  • the budget that they put out this year

  • included $3 billion to address elderly homelessness.

  • I don't think that's likely to pass,

  • but it's the first time that we've seen

  • a federal proposal of any kind,

  • so at least it's out there and it's in the conversation

  • 'cause we should not have destitute elderly

  • or disabled people in the richest country on Earth.

- [Narrator] This chart shows median net worth