America's senior citizens increasingly forced to take on roommates to pay the bills

Middle-class seniors and the growing wave of baby boomers behind them want to stay in their homes and communities as they grow old, but escalating costs of everything from food to medication to property taxes, battered retirement portfolios and dwindling savings have today’s older Americans looking to become ad hoc landlords or tenants, even though the practice is forbidden by zoning restrictions.

“With high costs of living today, and diminished resources of seniors, renting and sharing excess space in one’s dwelling will certainly call into question the relevance of current laws,” Robert Stein, president and CEO of the American Society on Aging, said via email. Ultimately, while these kinds of arrangements can give seniors a richer life as well as financial stability, Stein said there were plenty of instances where people attempting these kinds of living situations had run afoul of authorities…

Without her tenants, a group that has ranged over the years from a visiting Chinese academic to a retired publisher who Herships considers more like family, she couldn’t afford to keep her house. “I’ve heard of people losing their homes,” she said, after their clandestine rental agreements came to the attention of local authorities.