With the holidays approaching, many of us are especially mindful of wanting to give back to those less fortunate. In that spirit, we thought we’d raise awareness this week about the growing number of seniors in our country who are falling victim to homelessness, and explore ways we can help. Right now that figure is pretty staggering, with 50% of our homeless citizens now over the age of 50. 44% of those folks were not homeless prior to 50, meaning they’re coming to this status later in life.
Why the increase in seniors becoming homeless?
Much of the trend can be attributed to the 2008 economic crisis, which saw high numbers of Americans 50-65 lose significant equity in their homes, have their savings shrink, even lose their jobs. Despite the recent economic upturn, the majority of these seniors haven’t recovered, largely because of soaring housing and healthcare costs, compounded by a stubbornly age-discriminant job market.
What can I do to help?
If you know a senior in danger of losing their home, or are interested in volunteering to help needy seniors looking for answers, there are a number of federal agencies to be aware of. Benefits.gov can help you figure out what types of assistance your senior may be eligible for, including food, housing, financial, counseling, and more. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers free legal advice, financial help, emergency rental assistance, and much more. For former military personnel, the Homeless Veterans Assistance Center offers connections to mental health services, proper healthcare, housing, and employment opportunities. And the government’s Eldercare Locator is a helpful resource for finding affordable senior housing in your area.
Other excellent resources include the National Council on Aging, which offers extensive online assistance, including benefits calculators; Volunteers of America, a faith-based organization that provides a wide range of support services; and the National Coalition for the Homeless, whose national volunteer network is always available, and always looking for people to help.