Age-Restricted Housing – The perfect silver bullet?

(This article was written by guest blogger Richie)

I came across a very interesting article on NJ.COM this morning regarding Age-Restricted developments in New Jersey. I’m sure many of us have come across these developments; they are sprouting up all over with the claims that adding these types of developments to your community will help the town by adding tax dollars without the expense of additional children for the school system.

Now it seems that towns are finding the down-side of age restricted developments, starting mainly with the school system.

Link: Age-restricted housing may not help schools

The musical-chairs quality of home sales illustrates a phenomenon that school officials and demographers hired to determine the future enrollment of the township’s schools have long feared: Age-restricted developments are not the silver bullet against rising school taxes that many municipalities throughout the state have touted.

“We said seven years ago that we thought the age-restricted homes would have an impact on the schools because many would be bought by residents who wanted to stay in the community,” said Paul Abramson, president of educational planning consultant Stanton Leggett Associates, the firm hired by the school district to study future enrollment.

While the 55-and-over communities generally do not allow children under 18, statistics provided to Stanton Leggett by the township show that at least 40 percent, and possibly as many as 70 percent, of the homes built in the township for those 55 and over are being bought by township residents, which in turn opens their former homes to outside residents – with children.

My question is; what on earth did they expect to happen when the offered these type of developments? Did they assume that the people who moved in to these age-restricted developments would sell their home only to couples with no children?

Tuesday night, the township zoning board is expected to hear applications for three more developments, totaling 421 homes, including one on Route 130 near the Hamilton Marketplace that will house 324 new age-restricted condominiums.

According to demographic projections, if 40 percent of those 2,100 homes are bought by township residents, who in turn sell their homes to people from outside the municipality, between 400 and 680 additional students could result from construction of the age-restricted communities. At 70 percent, those numbers would nearly double.

At a cost of about $9,000 per year to educate each child, those children represent from $3.6 million to $6.1 million in additional school expenses each year.

Doh! Looks like the school system is in for a rude-awakening. Why so many age-restricted developments?

My guess is that developers can get their projects approved much easier. Their claim is that no new children are being brought into the school system because the homes are being sold to couples with no children under the age of 18. What they fail to mention is that the couples who move in; may be possibly selling their existing homes to a couple with children…

Now; another downside to this. Consider any proposal to increase taxes to pay for the school system, who do they think is going to vote against it?

Well, they’ve just added 400+ homes that are populated by seniors (who are most likely retired) and have a lot of time to do things, especially VOTE. They have no children, why should their tax increase to pay for children in the school system? What do you think they would vote for?

Thoughts & comments?

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9 Responses to Age-Restricted Housing – The perfect silver bullet?

  1. Metroplexual says:

    I have studied the phenomenon closely. I am a planner in NW Jersey and you my friend have hit the nail on the head. This type of housing is cutting off your nose to spite your face. We were never sure where the new residents would come from but always suspected it would cannibalize existing residents who have friends and family in the vicinity.

    The age restricted actually appeals to the empty nesters who are still working that don’t want to take care of a lawn or the exterior of a house. So you see them mostly proposed as townhouses in community associations.

    Another tidbit while I worked for a county in 2003 we had an 4,000 unit increase in proposals in one year. On the flipside the mayor of an affluent township in central Jersey
    told me that a toll brothers age-restricted development was rescinded due to oversaturation of the market in senior housing. What do you do if you have these units that noone wants as age restricted?

    I’ve seen an example of where they reverted to regular market rate in the 80’s.

  2. Interesting scenario.

    Stage 1:
    Massive over-crowding in the schools.

    Stage 2:
    Either local taxes go up to pay for new schools, forcing the elderly buyers to sell and move out, or

    Stage 3:
    Local taxes don’t go up, forcing school aged families (who want a decent education for their kids) to sell and move out.

    It looks like the town won’t be big enough for the both of them.

  3. Metroplexual says:


    This is the only housing a community welcomes unless it is over a million dollars.

    Demographically the town have alot less to worry about now that boomers have had their kids. We have already noticed a signicant drop off in kids in the 0-5 years cohort. Unless massive immigration occurs, I think it will trend downward anyway.

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