Elder Homelessness in America

The Upward Trend in Older Adult Homelessness

Studies across the U.S. have shown a clear upward trend in the proportion of ‘older’ persons’ (aged 50-64) among the homeless population. This is a group which frequently falls between the cracks of governmental safety nets. They are not old enough to qualify for Medicare, subsidized housing or Social Security benefits, so any costly and unexpected circumstances can result in homelessness.

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Older homeless adults have higher rates of geriatric syndromes like walking, vision and hearing issues.

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Older homeless are likely to suffer from impairments resulting from depression or dementia, which can contribute to the worsening of their physical health.

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50 %

In a 2004 survey, half of the recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that were 50 years and older had been living alone before losing their homes.

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112 %

A person receiving SSI support would have to pay 112% of that income to rent a one-bedroom apartment, or 99% for a studio/efficiency apartment.

Gaps in Benefits for Older Homeless Americans

Social security benefits become available at age 65. For Americans who are 50 to 62 years old, there are no safety nets to catch them in the event of a major expense that prevents them from being able to pay rent. While social security benefits are available to those over 65, they often fail to cover the cost of housing, let alone any additional expenses, like food and other basic needs.

Greater recognition of the older/elder homelessness issue is needed. Federal, state, and local authorities, as well as nonprofit service providers, have to be made aware of the specific needs and challenges faced by older adults and elderly persons who are homeless.

Elder Homelessness

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