“I lost my job because I am 60 with diabetes.
I got laid off due to the pandemic,
and my job never took me back on.”
– a Naomi Shelter Guest
For over 30 years, Cornerstone Community Outreach has welcomed unhoused neighbors of all ages into safe, supportive shelter. The doors swing wide for everyone, from families with newborns to senior citizens and all ages in between. The post below will focus on persons 51 years old and over who have found shelter at CCO in 2021 & 2022.
In 2021 – 2022, in the CCO Naomi Shelters, 187 people (40%) of guests were ages 51 and older. Nationally, the number of unhoused older adults continues to rise.
Many factors play a role in the “graying of homelessness.” The death of a spouse or family member with whom the guest shared a dwelling and costs is one cause. The emotional and financial toll of loss reduces the likelihood of maintaining housing. It’s harder to pay the bills alone. For those walking a financial tightrope, the results can be catastrophic.
Other guests indicated job loss, age discrimination at job interviews, behavioral healthcare issues, and chronic physical health challenges or a combination of these as primary factors. Age discrimination blocks guests from getting and maintaining a job. Employers often hire newer, younger employees who receive lower wages. Shelter guests who have worked blue-collar jobs often have the added issue of declining health due to decades of physically demanding work. Among the guests at the Naomi Women’s Shelter, several women over 50 with university degrees and years of work experience struggle to find employment.
Systemic issues contribute to the rise in older adults experiencing homelessness. A few of these factors are weak safety nets, incarceration, an increasing lack of affordable housing, and the end of COVID assistance.
Remaining in housing is a growing challenge for older adults. Senior citizens receiving Social Security face rising rental costs on a fixed income. A seemingly small financial issue can force someone from their housing. Compelled to choose between prescription medication, food, utilities, or transportation, low-income adults struggle to make ends meet. Loss, medical issues, or a behavioral health crisis can disrupt the fine line that keeps older Americans housed. When this balance shifts, homelessness can ensue.
Since the pandemic, unhoused seniors face longer subsidized housing wait lists and stricter protocols. The circumstances point to the need for shelter and services for those who lose housing and accessible subsidized housing to keep homelessness from recurring.
Older single adults need a place to recover from the destructive effects of poverty and homelessness. Case managers at the Naomi Shelters for Men and Women work to build trust with new shelter guests. From that foundation of care, staff can assist guests in finding jobs, housing, healthcare, and a sense of community.
Please consider making a donation that will support single adults at CCO today. Thank you!
For further reading visit –
Justice In Aging – Low-Income Older Adults Face Unaffordable Rents, Driving Housing Instability & Homelessness
USA Today – America’s Homeless Ranks Graying as More Retire on Streets