We Are Not Ready for the Silver Tsunami That’s Coming

Mark INT Marian_SLCI am 52 years-old. I am unemployed. I lost my house to foreclosure back in 2008. Heck, I lost everything in 2008.  I have high debt because of student loans, and living off credit cards when I was first unemployed late 2007 hoping the economy would get better. I have zero savings. I don’t have health insurance. The chances of me ending up on the streets again are very good. I am not alone!

We have a Silver Tsunami coming as the boomer generation enters their senior years. This past recession has destroyed the possibility of a comfortable retirement for many, and once seniors are no longer able to work or are employable, there is no safety net to keep the boomer generation out of  homelessness.  In the next 10 years, maybe sooner, the “Silver Tsunami” will tax our already hurting social services system to the point of collapse.

I asked my friend Robert Egger from the L.A. Kitchen for some stats and this is what he sent me:

  • When President Kennedy established Older Americans Month in 1963, 17 million Americans were age 65 or older, about a third of those seniors lived in poverty. TODAY, According to a new Census Bureau report, there were 40.3 million people age 65 and older. 
  • According to the National Council on Aging Over 23 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.
  • According to AARP, in eight years, from 2001 – 2009, the number of Americans age 50+ threatened by hunger soared by 79 percent, to nearly 9 million people.
  • According to the California Commission on Aging, the average income of elderly Californians is about $25,500, and Social Security accounts for 28 percent of older Californians’ incomes
  • A UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Oakland-based Insight Center for Community Economic Development estimated that 7 out of 10 elderly Latinos and African-Americans and six out of 10 Asians don’t have enough income to pay for their basic needs
  • Between 2010 and 2030, the number of older Americans will double, to 72.1 Million.
  • For the first time in history, people over 65 will outnumber children under 5
  • According to a CA Dept. of Aging report, by 2020, more Californians will see their 86th birthday. Of the State’s 58 counties, 38 (including LA) will have increases of more than 150 percent, 26 will have increases of more than 200 percent, and 11 will have over a 300 percent increase in the number of persons aged 85 and older…and the first Baby Boomer doesn’t turn 85 until 2031. 

Back in 2009 and 2010, the State of Utah invited me to visit. In 2010, a camera crew from @home followed along as we visited a new facility built just for homeless seniors. Please watch and share this short video capturing the moment I first met Marian, a homeless senior who now has a real home:

You can watch my original interview with Marian here.

In all of my travels, I see very little support for homeless seniors and the impending Silver Tsunami. I get that social services is looking at the crisis in front of them instead of the train wreck headed our way, but we need to start taking real tangible actions to help our aging seniors now! Please support social service programs targeted at helping seniors in your community.


  • Rose Pennington

    My husband and I were so close to being homeless just 2 weeks ago. We lost our apartment because it was sold. If it were not for the kindness of friends, we would be on the streets . My husband social security is 1/2 our income ! In turn we took inan about to be homeless veteran to pay it forward. There are many things we all could & should be doing right now to pprotect our seniors. Thank you Mark for putting a spotlight on this terrible situation.

  • a2phil

    Pretty much the same boat as you…disillusioned by the Democratic party (party member 30+ years until 2010) They’re just the same as the Republicans (look at the headlines from the last few months for proof)

    It’s time for the Socialist Revolution!! Or (as good if not better) a 297 Million person march on Washington!! Can’t arrest ALL of us, and for the homeless among us, 3 hots and a cot if they DO get arrested!!

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