Senior Housing Occupancy Slips to All-Time Low
- Jul 10, 2020
Occupancy rates at senior housing properties across the U.S. experienced the largest quarterly decline since reporting began 14 years ago, according to a new report from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.
Nationwide, occupancy fell 2.8 percentage points in the second quarter of 2020, dropping from 87.7 percent to 84.9 percent, according to data from NIC MAP Data Service. Among the markets included in the study, only two reported gains in occupancy between May and June. The metros of Sacramento and Cleveland increased to 85.4 and 84.5 percent, respectively, while the markets of Atlanta and Denver experienced the largest losses in occupancy over the same time period.
Of the different property types, assisted living was impacted the most, with occupancy decreasing 3.2 percentage points to 82.1 percent during the second quarter, while independent living decreased 2.4 points during the same time period.
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The study comes more than three months after nationwide shutdowns began in response to the coronavirus pandemic and cases of COVID-19 have soared to more than 3 million. Residents at senior housing properties have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, as many already suffer from multiple chronic conditions, said NIC’s Chief Economist Beth Burnham Mace in prepared remarks, illustrated by the higher drop in occupancy rates at assisted living facilities compared to independent living.
However, NIC said the peak of occupancy decline is most likely over, while setbacks still remain, according to NIC Chief Operating Officer Chuck Harry.
“Many properties still lack access to personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing to keep residents and caregivers safe,” said Harry. “Property operators and policymakers continue to need reliable data to make the best decisions, especially in states and cities that eased social distancing restrictions this summer and are already seeing major spikes in illnesses.”
Last month, NIC reported that the virus outbreak prompted many families to hold back on moving elderly relatives into skilled nursing facilities and senior housing. Other factors that have led to record low occupancy rates include a slowdown in conversions and sales, concerns from residents or family members and mandatory government-imposed bans.