Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increase in Elderly Homeless Is Another Sign of Poverty

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Increase in Elderly Homeless Is Another Sign of Poverty

Article excerpt


Sunday's Times-Union told the story of Steve White, a Fleming Island man who goes into the woods and travels otherwise shunned paths to bring food, supplies and comfort to homeless people. There's a picture of him, in fact, helping Ron Smith, a 61-year-old man who lives in a tent in the woods in Orange Park.

I don't know Smith's story. What I do know, however, is that his picture may be a picture of the future - a future in which more aging people like him may wind up spending their golden years in a tent or in a shelter.

And that possibility, the possibility of more people struggling with homelessness when they ought to be playing with grandchildren, ought to worry us all.


The National Alliance to End Homelessness recently released a report predicting that homelessness among the elderly will increase substantially over the next decade.

It predicts that if numbers of elderly persons living in deep poverty holds up in addition to the aging trend, elderly homelessness will increase by 33 percent - from 44,172 to 58,772 - between 2010 and 2020.

By 2050, it predicts that more than 95,000 Americans aged 60 and older will be homeless.

In some places, that trend is already apparent. A study of the homeless population in Massachusetts, for example, found that people aged 55 and older rose from being 8 percent of that state's homeless population in 1999 to 14 percent in 2003.

Another study by the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness and Loyola University found that homelessness was increasing among adults between the ages of 50 and 64.

But the data coming out of those places (data for Northeast Florida wasn't readily available) isn't solely what the national homeless alliance based its prediction on.

It based its prediction on demographic changes and uncertainty over whether the U.S. economy and its social safety nets will be able to hold once the elderly population doubles by 2050. …

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