It only takes one crisis for a senior to become homelessness, and they frequently fall between the cracks of governmental safety nets. Older adults experiencing homelessness have three to four times the mortality rate of the general population due to unmet physical health, mental health, and substance use treatment needs.
Seniors experience homelessness for a variety of reasons, including:
- the lack of income to pay for housing (low government assistance, insufficient retirement income, current and historic low wages coupled with debt and medical expenses)
- the shortage of affordable and secure housing
- deteriorating physical and mental health
- a relationship breakdown and/or suffering from violence and abuse
The risk of homelessness for seniors can also be increased by the death of a spouse, social isolation, discrimination, or a lack of awareness of available benefits and services.
For seniors experiencing homelessness for the first time, it creates shame, despair, and fear. Many seniors chose to hide their homelessness from family and friends. Others cannot trust those relationships to help them in this type of crisis due to relationship breakdowns, financial constraints, geographically separated, or contributing to the cause for homelessness.