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With retirees eyeing urban setting, Ithaca faces housing crunch

Nine out of ten older people in Tompkins County want to stay close by for retirement, but a survey finds a majority want to move to more urban areas, which will put a strain on housing.

Ithaca is a city that already has a tight housing market. The Tompkins County Office for the Aging found it will likely get tighter. The agency conducted a survey of people who recently retired or are about to.

Six out of 10 responders say they want to live in an urban setting. That means more demand for apartments, condos, and small homes.

Lisa Holmes, director of the Office for the Aging, says the sheer volume of the baby-boom generation is going to put pressure on Ithaca’s housing market.

"So this is just one area where this kind of tidal wave of the baby-boom generation is going to be impacting communities all over the state," she said.

Half of those surveyed – they were mostly in their mid-60s – say they plan to move within the next five years. 

They’re seeking a livable, walkable community and homes with less upkeep – like condos. Affordable housing,  access to public transportation, and a home without stairs are factors they identified on the survey. 

Ithaca already has a strong housing market with limited space to rent or own. Holmes says baby boomers will put more pressure on that market.

"We’ve known for a long time that the aging demographic, the age wave, is coming," Holmes said. "And it’s now here."