There is a silent crisis happening in America, and it is affecting the baby boomer generation. Increasing numbers of seniors are finding themselves without a place to call home. While the reasons for this trend are numerous and complex, a lack of affordable housing and insufficient social safety nets are two major contributing factors. This problem is not only heart-wrenching, it also puts a strain on already overburdened healthcare and social services systems. The number of homeless people over 55 is expected to spike to 225,000 nationwide by 2026 — a 32% jump from 170,000 in 2017 — according to a University of Pennsylvania study. In this blog post, we'll take a look at the problem of senior homelessness in America and suggest some possible solutions.
There are a number of reasons why homelessness is on the rise among baby boomers. One of the most significant factors is the increasing cost of housing. In many parts of the country, rent and mortgage payments have become unaffordable for people on fixed incomes. Additionally, many baby boomers have accumulated large amounts of debt, which can make it difficult to maintain stable housing. Medical bills, credit card debts, and even student loans can all contribute to homelessness.
Another major contributing factor to this trend is the loss of a spouse. For many older Americans, their spouse is their biggest source of financial and emotional support. When a spouse dies, the surviving partner often struggles to cope with the loss both mentally and financially. Without a steady income or a support system in place, it can be difficult to keep up with mortgage payments or other bills. As a result, many widowed Americans end up facing foreclosure and ultimately homelessness. While this issue is often overlooked, it is important to remember that homelessness can affect people of all ages and from all walks of life.
For many seniors health conditions may prevent them from returning to work or prevent them from working enough hours to get by. Even for those who are able to go back to work, finding a job can be especially difficult. With years of experience, seniors often have the skills that businesses are looking for. However, they may also have gaps in their employment history or be unfamiliar with modern technology. As a result, many seniors find themselves unemployed or underemployed.
Sadly, once seniors become homeless, it is very difficult for them to break out of the cycle. They often have nowhere to turn for help and end up relying on already overburdened shelters. This puts a strain on our healthcare system as well, because homeless seniors are more likely to use emergency rooms for their primary care needs. The additional stress placed on these already under-resourced facilities can lead to even more financial burdens for cities and states across the country.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that will solve homelessness however there are small steps you can take to help homeless seniors. One way is to donate money or items to organizations that serve them, such as food pantries and shelters. Another way is to volunteer your time at organizations such as Meals on Wheels. You can also advocate for policies that would provide more affordable housing and other assistance to homeless seniors. And finally, you can spread awareness about the issue by talking to friends and family about it, or by writing about it or sharing information online. Every little bit helps, and by taking action, you can make a difference in the lives of homeless seniors.
If you are experiencing homelessness or know a senior in Spokane who needs help these organizations may be able to lend some assistance:
SPOKANE NEIGHBORHOOD ACTION PARTNERS
500 S Stone St, Spokane, Washington
CREDIT.ORG - SPOKANE
601 W 1st Ave Ste 1400, Spokane, Washington
907 W Riverside Ave, Spokane, Washington
Nationwide you can find homelessness assistance programs through the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Ty Strahl is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) based in Spokane Washington. Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.