Baby boomers are becoming homeless at rates not seen since the Great Depression. That’s according to fresh statistics from the Biden administration’s own Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Bidenomics” has delivered a world where working and saving for 45 years still leaves you without a roof over your head in retirement. Here in America.
While homelessness has been steadily growing in our once-great cities, older adults have historically been a very small percentage of this population. In the early 1990s, only about one-tenth of the homeless were over 65. Today, it’s half, and rising quickly.
How did the baby boomers go from being the most affluent generation in American history to being homeless? The answer is catastrophically bad public policy, which has intensified under Bidenomics.
First, since 1990, recession after recession—1991, 2001, 2008, 2020 and counting—repeatedly wiped out the savings of millions. After each crash, the Federal Reserve manipulated interest rates to make cheap money, which then inflated housing prices to the point people could not save up to buy a home. The treadmill kept going, and more people were left behind. Even when they did manage to buy a home, they could lose it as each recession rendered millions jobless.
The 2020 recession was particularly brutal. Millions of jobs were lost while housing was sent to the stratosphere, but new policies were implemented that, this time, targeted landlords. Rent moratoriums across the nation meant millions of renters stopped paying, but landlords had to keep paying their mortgages in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. They couldn’t even evict the deadbeat renters who were costing them their life savings.
When the Supreme Court in August 2021 finally struck down the Biden administration’s moratorium extensions as unconstitutional, landlords had the green light to recoup their losses. Rents promptly soared, and the evictions began.
Landlords also had to be much pickier regarding to whom they would rent in order to avoid further losses. Minimum credit scores and income requirements ratcheted up quickly. Working-class older adults were effectively priced out of entire cities as rents doubled to cover the risks and income requirements rose to, in some cities, three times the rent.
On top of these brain-dead policies, the unprecedented government spending, borrowing and printing unleashed the highest inflation in 40-years. Keeping interest rates too low for too long sparked the biggest asset bubble since 2008—the “everything bubble” that has now given us $400,000 starter homes, and the rental rates to go with them.
The result is soaring prices, falling real wages, record-high rents, and one of the most unaffordable housing markets in American history.
Older Americans who plan to enter assisted living also face soaring prices. Between inflation and labor shortages caused by government handouts, the median nursing home in Florida now costs $115,000 per year. And even at those prices, many are shutting down.
Baby boomers on fixed incomes who rented their entire lives and planned to do so in retirement are now facing rental prices for which they never budgeted. Many may never be able to retire. Those already out of the labor market and on fixed incomes are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to pay their bills because the cost of living has exploded.
Even some of those baby boomers who own their homes are in trouble. Having seen their property appreciate in nominal terms incredibly fast, they now face much higher property taxes on their inflated home values. Once again, their fixed incomes haven’t increased to match the higher cost of homeownership, forcing many to sell.
And the baby boomers are part of a disturbing trend where people forgo homeowners insurance because they cannot afford today’s higher premiums. When a catastrophic event occurs, they simply lose their home. Depending on the extent of the damage, they may also lose everything in their homes.
America has dedicated trillions to building a safety net, but incompetent federal policy has whipsawed older adults to the point that they don’t stand a chance. Congress and this administration should be ashamed of what they’ve done to the generation who built this country.
And they should be doing all they can to reverse it: to bring down inflation, housing costs, and medical costs while protecting the savings and small businesses that millions of Americans continue to rely on in their retirement. It’s far past time the federal government work with seniors, not against them.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times