HOMELESSNESS AMONG OLDER PEOPLE IS ON THE RISE, DRIVEN BY INFLATION AND THE HOUSING CRUNCH
There has been a major increase in people experiencing homelessness over the age of 60. Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the decrease in affordable housing, a lot of older individuals are losing their homes and seeking refuge in shelters.
This increase has become very apparent in the West, where a migration wave of remote workers has caused housing and rental prices to skyrocket. Nationally, rents have faced around an 11% increase in 2021. Going hand in hand with this, the poverty rate of older individuals has risen from 8.9% in 2020 to 10.3% in 2021
An 8.7% increase in Social Security benefits is upcoming, but it will not be enough to save everyone struggling. As this housing crisis continues, more and more older individuals have been heading to local shelters. Seniors between 80 and 90 years of age are even searching for aid, however shelters are not equipped to care for individuals with their needs, as many people this age suffer from health issues or are confined to wheelchairs.
The state of Montana is attempting to take action on the issue to prevent disaster from striking. The Montana Coalition to Solve Homelessness proposes a change in the medicaid system that will allow for funding to go to shelters. This would assist older people with more needs to obtain care at shelters, and would also help seniors find services like subsidized housing and assisted living facilities. These facilities bring an onslaught of new challenges as capacity is limited and fills up quickly. Nursing homes have been struggling, and many are closing their doors due to a lack of funding.
On the quest for long-term solutions, many believe that an increase in available housing would suffice stating that open housing units would be a good way to provide people with shelter in a more sure and permanent way.
RENT INCREASE IN 2021
OF OLDER INDIVIDUALS EXPERIENCED POVERTY IN 2021