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Posted 05/17/2021

Senior Citizens Face Homeless Crisis as Incomes Fall and Rent Skyrockets

Senior Citizens Face Homeless Crisis as Incomes Fall and Rent Skyrockets

Failing health, crumbling incomes and rising home costs have forced thousands of senior citizens into the streets. In California, for example, more than 30,000 Los Angeles area seniors will be homeless by 2030, explains Nick Saifan, CEO of the veteran-friendly company Vendaval, who adds that immediate public and community action are needed to save those who can’t save themselves. 

There is a looming crisis affecting America’s senior citizens and if not addressed, thousands of them will end up in the streets with no place to call home.(1) As Baby Boomers age, the number of homeless seniors across the US jumped nearly 70 percent between 2007-17.(2) “Baby Boomers face a rough future,” said Nick Saifan, CEO of the veteran-friendly company Vendaval Corp. “Many of us are in failing health and forced to live on Social Security. Housing costs have exploded. That’s left many, who expected a comfortable retirement, facing foreclosures, evictions and life on the streets.”

Researchers predict the number of homeless seniors in New York City will more than double from 2,600 to 6,300 by 2030. In Boston, the figure is projected to jump from 570 to 1,560 over the next decade.(1) The number of homeless seniors in Los Angeles rose 22% in 2018, leaving 4,800 seniors on the streets. Experts predict that number could rise to 30,000 by 2030.(3)

A full and comfortable retirement is no longer realistic for millions of aging senior citizens and veterans. Many now work well beyond retirement age to make ends meet. Health and aging issues make it difficult for seniors to obtain jobs. In addition, many companies shy away from older employees. The stress that comes from aging, as well as the death of spouses and friends, adds to the challenges many seniors now face.

California’s senior population is rapidly growing—according to published reports, by 2030, the older-than-65 sector will increase by 4 million people.(4) As this population ages, explains Saifan, their old housing has become unsuitable or untenable. More seniors have chosen to age in place, holding onto their single-family residences longer than previous generations. However, aging in place may not be possible for all seniors, especially those who need extra help and those who rent. Seniors who live on fixed incomes are vulnerable to the rent increases that have taken place across California. And federal laws don’t always protect seniors from arbitrary rent increases.

The toxic brew is felt nationwide, but it is severe across California. Solutions are hard to find. Experts and advocates like Saifan say a comprehensive approach is needed. Saifan contends that local governments can provide a huge help by reducing the red tape developers face. Fewer government restrictions will let qualified builders modify old homes for seniors, build affordable properties, and create group home settings for the aging population. The government, says Saifan, is paramount to making this work.

“A strong partnership among communities, advocates, home builders and government agencies may be the best way to create a better future,” Saifan says. “Those options can range from fixed rent controls for seniors, the use of shipping containers to create housing, and access to vacant lands and empty buildings currently controlled by state and local governments.”

Saifan, who spent 24 years in the military and decades more advocating for senior citizens, states that a caring and involved community is paramount to the success of any well-intended housing program. He adds that his company, Vendaval, has years of hand-on expertise in developing affordable homes. The time is now, Saifan said. He calls on communities, advocates for seniors and local governments to work together and make aging a blessing, not a curse.

“The government can’t do everything,” Saifan said. “We have to start thinking about these issues as a community. More private entities are needed to take the lead on behalf of these seniors. We all need to think beyond ourselves and focus on helping elders enjoy their golden years.”

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