California’s Greying Homeless Population Presents New Challenges for Governments

As California’s population ages, homelessness among senior citizens is becoming a matter of great concern. People 55 and over represent the fastest growing demographic among the unhoused. Between 2017 and 2021, there was an 84% jump in seniors seeking out homelessness services. According to CalMatters, the Fresno-Madera region experienced one of the largest increases (216%) in senior homelessness during that time period. 

The average senior in California receives just $1,183 in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) per month. That’s not enough to afford a studio apartment in any county. Seniors also require more medical care, which exacerbates the perils of living on a fixed income.

In addition to the lack of affordable housing, many California seniors — both housed and unhoused — struggle with food insecurity. Communities are trying to address the problem. The City of Los Angeles has partnered with grab-and-go food service Everytable to provide fresh, nutritious meals to people 60 and over who are in need. It’s part of the city’s Rapid Response Senior Meals Program.

This problem isn’t going away. By 2030, the number of seniors experiencing homelessness is expected to double. The crisis will require close cooperation between the state and local governments, and the public and private sectors.

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