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Housing Demographic Hell: Seniors wait out the housing slump

"It's pretty scary, some of the uncertainty out there," she said. Most residence communities in the region have seen occupancy declines. The National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry, or NIC, tracks senior housing trends in metropolitan markets around the country, and MetroWest and Milford-area data is included in both the Boston and the Worcester areas. During the first quarter of 2008, senior housing around Boston had 94 percent occupancy, and communities around Worcester had 93 percent, according to the NIC. Senior housing in the Worcester area bottomed out 18 months later during the third quarter of 2009 at 80 percent, and Boston found bottom in the fourth quarter that year at 89 percent. Neither region's senior housing has regained occupancy levels similar to pre-2008: Worcester had 89 percent during the first quarter this year, while Boston saw 91 percent occupancy. Chris Delaney has owned and operated the Whitcomb House in Milford, an assisted living community, with his wife, Pamela, for 16 years. Whitney said his toughest year during the slump was 2010, just as rates started their recovery, after maintaining occupancy during the previous two years. "What we saw was some of our folks were coming to us a little bit later than normal," Delaney said. "I think families were a little more conscious of mom's investments and financial manners."

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