July 18, 2024

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The ‘silver tsunami’ of baby boomers aging is exacerbating the homeless problem

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Michael Genaldi’s road to homelessness began early this year when a car slammed into the rear of his motorcycle, crushed three of his ribs, and left him in a coma for over a month.

The 58-year-old lost his job as a machine operator, then his home, and he was living in his truck when he was diagnosed with stage 2 lung cancer. Too young to get Social Security, Genaldi now lives temporarily in a shelter for people 55 and older in Phoenix while he navigates the process of qualifying for disability payments.

As its population ages, the United States is ill-prepared to adequately house and care for the growing number of older people, concludes a new report released Thursday by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Without enough government help, “many older adults will have to forgo needed care or rely on family and friends for assistance,” warned Jennifer Molinsky, project director of the center’s Housing an Aging Society Program. Many, like Genaldi, will become homeless.

Molinsky said more governmental assistance could better help the upsurge of older Americans who are baby boomers born after World War II.

Assistance programs bypass nearly 3.7 million

The report says that in 2021, federal housing assistance like Section 8 or Section 202 — which provides housing with supportive services such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation for older people — was only sufficient for a little more than a third of the 5.9 million renters ages 62 and over who were eligible.

Creative ideas are especially needed now to house people with fixed or dwindling incomes and with insufficient savings, the report says. Think house or apartment sharing to cut back on costs rather than living alone, in accessory dwelling units or ADUs known as casitas, granny flats, or in-law units. There are also cohousing communities where individual homes — sometimes even tiny homes — are arranged around a building with a communal space such as a…

Anita Snow, The Associated Press

2023-12-02 07:00:00

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