This issue of In Focus provides a synthesis of recent literature on homelessness among older (age 50-64) and elderly (age 65 and older) adults in the United States. Much of the recent literature and policy focus has been placed on the plight of unstably housed youth and families. However, strong demographic trends, economic insecurity, and lack of affordable senior living have contributed to increased housing instability among those over age 50. Differences in pathways into homelessness, health care utilization, and age-specific clinical issues necessitate further consideration of the graying homeless population and will be discussed in this publication.
In 2006,the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness teamed with Loyola University’s Center for Urban Research and Learning to undertake a nine-month study of people in Chicago who were homeless and aged 50 to 64. Funded by the Retirement Research Foundation, the study was undertaken in response to reports from homeless service agencies that this cohort of people was growing. Agencies had reported a fast-growing number of people aged 50 – 64 using homeless services, and that they seemed to both share issues with the rest of the homeless population and face circumstances unique to their age and stage of life. The study’s objectives were to:
- obtain a demographic profile of people who are homeless in Chicago and are between the ages of 50 and 64;
- understand how the various systems designed to serve this population do and do not meet their needs; and
- begin to suggest a range of policy and programmatic responses to the needs of this population.
Homeless & Elderly: Understanding the Special Health Care Needs of Elderly Persons Who Are Homeless (2003)
This paper was developed by the Office of Minority & Special Populations in the Bureau of Primary Health Care in an effort to describe the unique challenges that homeless elderly people face in accessing primary health care. Program Assistance Letter 2003-03.
Healing Hands Newsletters
- Aging on the Streets (2008)