Senior Homeless Population on the Rise

July 26, 2010
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According to a recent national study, the population of senior citizens who are homeless is expected to increase by at least 33 percent within the next 10 years, with that amount doubling by the year 2050. This new information has national agencies and assisted living facilities gearing up to address this coming demographic. It will also have an effect on low-income tax credit housing sites that receive Section 202 funding.

A great contributor to this phenomenon is the fact that the baby boomer generation is now hitting 65. Already, about 45 million Americans are considered senior citizens, and according to U.S. Census projections, that number is expected to grow to 60 million, topping off at 90 million by the year 2050. These numbers mean that added services—such as housing, health care, and nutrition—will be greatly needed.

“A significant percentage of the seniors that enter into the homeless population will be veterans and many VA facilities are anticipating this,” says Mary Jo Leste, ceo of Senior Smart, Inc., a marketing company specializing in assisted living and home hospice referrals. Some VA sites are building multi-story complexes to house their homeless veteran population, along with plans to expand their nursing facilities.

Many experts agree that instead of simply reducing homelessness among seniors, focus needs to be made on providing affordable housing and various other types of assistance to all age groups. For example, currently there are about 300,000 housing units in the Section 202 program. According to the National Alliance to End Homeless, there are about 10 seniors on the waiting list for each unit. This is all in addition to the option of public housing, which is available to people with an income that falls 80 percent beneath the area media.

In conclusion, the Alliance says that increasing the availability of affordable housing would make a giant leap towards reducing the amount of homelessness among seniors.