Life on the streets without permanent shelter can take a toll on people’s physical and mental health, especially as they age. A new study by the University of Central San Francisco found that homeless people in their 50’s and 60’s suffer more from the effects of aging than a person in their 80’s who is not homeless. To come to this conclusion, researchers followed over 350 homeless people age 50 to 60 in the Oakland, California area. The study showed that the homeless population faces the onset of geriatric problems at a much earlier age than people who have permanent shelter.
Unfortunately, this problem is not fixing itself. Homeless shelters and transitional housing are not equipped for a rapidly aging population. Most shelters do not have the facilities a geriatric population requires, and many will face the need to install equipment such as grab bars in the coming years. These facilities will also need to hire more personal care attendants with the specialized skills to assist 60 year olds living in the bodies of 80 year olds. Affordable Equity Partners has syndicated over 400 affordable properties over the past 30 years, with over 150 of those being specifically for seniors. The majority of the individuals living there would not have been able to afford homes without the lower priced rent rate these properties offer. Pointe North Senior Village resident, Bea Phelps has said, “I think Albany, Georgia, has long needed a facility like this for people who are retired and on a fixed income. We budget and plan, hoping after retirement to have enough money for our living expenses.” She continued, “I love my space…the closet, pantry and laundry area. It is convenient to have my own place and not depend on my family. I feel secure here and I really enjoy my neighbors.”
1 in 8 people will be 75+ in 2040 and over the next 20 years, population aged 50+ will increase from 109 to 132 million. As the nation’s geriatric population increases, it is essential that AEP and others continue to build affordable housing with the needs of older residents in mind.
To learn more about the issue and listen to the findings from The California Report, click here.