“I’m so scared. I’ve never been homeless before”
Seniors are becoming homeless every day, and caseloads are rising for local social service providers who oftentimes must then begin difficult conversations. Michael, for example, was a working professional his whole life, but now at the age of 80 rent became more than his monthly income, eventually depleting his savings. Michael had always felt the safety and warmth of a roof over his head, and had the ability to pay bills on time. Not being able to pay rent meant losing shelter for himself and his belongings, and trying to sleep in “filthy” shelter spaces shared with people with severe mental health and substance issues. There are few or no transitional spaces for older adults who may have difficulty getting up from the low cots, sleeping in noisy unpredictable spaces, or showering within a 20-minute allotment.
Seniors are often on fixed incomes, are no longer able to be employed, and once evicted often face 3-6 year wait lists for low-income or “affordable” housing. Due to rising rents, even the “affordable” options end with evictions. Adding to the complexity of this issue is the critical role that community and access to services plays in healthy outcomes for older adults. Further, once an eviction is on record, one’s chances of being eligible to rent are significantly diminished.
This is an issue that will face many as they age and incomes fail to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living. We are sold the idea that if we work hard we’ll have enough when we are no longer working or able to work.
Life unfolds in ways we do not anticipate.
Where is this headed???? We are going to explore more experiences of social service workers and the clients they help. AND we might even get crazy and talk about solutions.