Housing options were identified in the community survey and focus groups as a top priority. Rent and home prices in this region are among the most expensive in the country. Some programs and non-profit organizations help, but the scale of the programs are unable to meet the demand, including for moderate income adults who do not qualify for many of these programs. People who want to downsize or need different accommodations cannot afford to move and sometimes have difficulty making home modifications. Additional resources need to be directed towards increasing the availability of affordable housing and filling gaps in the continuum of housing options. Broad policy approaches may be needed to support older adults remaining in their communities as long as possible.
Age Friendly Resources
Specialty Housing Map
For low-income seniors, there are a number of affordable housing options in Berkeley, including eight SAHA (Satellite Housing) locations, two RCD (Resources for Community Development) locations, and almost 2,000 Section 8 vouchers. However, the restrictions to qualify for these units leave out people who struggle just above the subsidized income limit. The average cost of a one bedroom apartment in Berkeley is $2,705 and only 38% of apartments cost less than $2,000 per month (1), leaving many struggling to make rent payments or unable to downsize.
There are three small and one large assisted living locations in Berkeley, with only one offering memory care. Even though these locations are quite expensive, some have wait lists and applications for openings always exceed availability .
The Age-Friendly Berkeley survey revealed that residents over 50 consider housing a top priority, often preventing Berkeley from being a great place for people to live as they age. Still, about half of the survey respondents thought it was 'Not At All Likely' they would move out of Berkeley after Retirement. According to the survey, the biggest problems with housing include: Housing Cost, Availability of appropriate housing, Property tax cost, Gentrification, and Homelessness.
For those who said they would likely move out of Berkeley, the top reasons included cost and housing options.
The overwhelming majority of survey respondents live in a single-family home or apartment. People who want to stay in their current home recognized a need to make modifications, especially to update their bathrooms (57%), add an emergency alert system (41%), and improve access to their home (39%).
of California's homeless population were over age 50 in 2015
is the current median home sale price in Berkeley according to Zillow
is the average price per month in 2018 for a one-bedroom apartment in Berkeley according to RentCAFE
of Berkeley households with an adult age 60+ is a single person household
of Berkeley renters age 60+ are spending > 30% of their income on rent
of the top 10 concerns for Berkeley adults 60+ are affordable housing, being able to maintain their home, and being able to stay in their home.
Infrastructure and Policy: Finding an affordable place to live is a major problem for people of all ages throughout the Bay Area. Small nonprofits are working hard to address the problem, but with almost 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in Berkeley alone (the highest per capita rate of homeless in Alameda County), the scale of the problem requires a much broader and regional policy solution.
Equity and Inclusion: For seniors who own homes, making needed safety and accessibility repairs or being able to downsize to a space that fits their needs, often feels out of reach financially. Volunteer run programs and city loans help, but again the scale of these programs cannot meet the growing need. Additional funding or staff are needed to manage the demand.
Information: There are a lot of disconnected housing programs in Berkeley and many people don't know where to go to find information about these resources. Though the county publishes a senior housing guide, there needs to be more publicity about this resource. City programs are listed on their website, but the website is difficult to navigate.