National housing crisis

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COLUMBIA - A new study released by Forbes said there is a new housing crisis for the U.S. to worry about in the coming years. It involves where all of the aging residents are going to live.

According to the study done by Harvard and The AARP, the number of adults age 50 and over is expected to grow to 133 million by 2030, an increase of more than 70 percent since 2000.

The problem is high housing costs currently force a third of adults 50 and over to pay more than 30 percent of their income for their homes. This could mean forcing citizens to cut back on food, health care or retirement savings.

But Columbia officials say this city is an exception. Housing programs supervisor Randy Cole said seniors have many options of where to live in Columbia.

Cole said every demographic in Columbia is considered in a consolidated plan for the city, including senior citizens. The city tries to meet each group's needs.

"There's a lot of good agencies in town," Cole said. "There's a lot of good networking between agencies and the city, as well as some private developers, to focus on needs of senior citizens."

He said the city still needs to monitor the living situation of some seniors.

"I do think there's some more that we could look at doing for our really low-income seniors," Cole said.

In addition to the already existing senior living complexes in Columbia, more are currently being built.

Construction is underway on the corner of Nifong and Bethel for a new senior living facility that will be a mixed-use property incorporating businesses into the plan as well.

Another way Columbia said it is ensuring it meets the needs of seniors is by requiring certain features in new homes.

Many houses or apartments in the U.S. are not suitable to the aging population's needs.

Only one percent of U.S. households have universal design features such as a no step entry, single-floor living, extra wide doorways and halls, accessible electrical controls and switches and lever-style door and faucet handles.

The city of Columbia is requiring a minimum universal design requirement for any new home constructed with city funding.

"An increase in universal design features is something that has been identified as a priority need in the city's new 2015-2019 consolidated plan," Cole said.