Wednesday, May 29, 2024

People living on the streets are old

I'm a San Franciscan. Unhappily, I'm all too used to living near unhoused people. But this summary still could jar me.

A major study on homelessness in California, released last year by UC San Francisco’s Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative (BHHI), includes two notable findings: 48% of all unhoused single adults in the state are 50 or older and 41% of unhoused older adults became homeless for the first time after age 50.

According to the report:
• “Being single is a risk factor for homelessness.” Of the older adults surveyed, 52% were single and never married; 17% reported being married or partnered. More than a quarter were divorced or separated, and 4% were widowed.

• “More than 80% of older adults entered homelessness from housing: 46% from non-leaseholding arrangements and 35% from leaseholding arrangements. The other 19% entered homelessness from institutions, which included time in jail, prison or healthcare settings.

• Poor health is a common reality among older adults experiencing homelessness. More than two-thirds reported having at least one significant chronic health condition. About a quarter of those surveyed said they’d experienced a time when they couldn’t get healthcare or obtain medication they needed.

• While people of color are overrepresented overall within the state’s unhoused population, older Black adults are particularly overrepresented. The report notes that 31% of older adults experiencing homelessness identified as Black, compared with 6% of all Californians age 50 or older. Older adults who identified as Native American or Indigenous and multiracial were also overrepresented, the survey found.

• The majority of older adults surveyed expressed optimism that “well-timed financial support would have staved off homelessness,” the authors wrote. Many believed that a modest monthly subsidy ($300 to $500), a one-time payment ($5,000 to $10,000) or something akin to a housing voucher would have allowed them to stay in their homes.

We use folks up and spit them out.

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