Population of Homeless Seniors Expected to Almost Triple by 2030

Homeless Seniors

We Need More Safeguards in Place to Prevent Senior Homelessness

In a world obsessed with youth, wherein wrinkles are removed through the latest Instagram filters and scientists study immortal jellyfish for secrets to reverse the aging process, one thing is clear:

Growing old has become something many people fear.

There are plenty of reasons to view life through this lens of uncertainty. Aging means inching ever closer to certain death. It means facing the loss of life, faculties, worldly possessions, and everything in between.

In the past, growing old was bittersweet. It meant swapping out evergreen innocence and replacing it with wisdom. Sure, that spring in the step might transform into a wrinkle around the eye, but all that meant was that you spent life smiling. That smile would linger on in family circles for precisely however long you did.

At least, that’s the romanticized version of aging in the American past.

Truth be told, the reality held a bit more nuance. And even then, some seniors were shuffled off to poor houses or forced to toil on through poverty. But at least they were respected by many ancient societies by and large.

Sadly, however, in today’s world, wisdom and experience are attributes that hold much less notoriety. We live in a fast-paced environment, one that is, quite arguably, collapsing on itself in the face of up-to-the-minute trends in technology.

In this climate, the 65 and over crowd has little to look forward to regarding their futures. As the senior population continues to increase, stretching beyond the 55 million mark, and 1 out of every 6 Americans has senior citizen status, this subgroup of individuals is destined to face a multitude of hardships. These obstacles include:

  • Not having enough income to survive through their last few decades or years
  • Lacking medical coverage
  • Not being able to afford life-saving prescription medications
  • Needing to continue working past retirement
  • Facing ageism in the workplace
  • Contending with unprecedented levels of inflation
  • Losing their homes and much more

A New Study Projects That by the Year 2030, Senior Homelessness Will Have Nearly Tripled

A new study entitled “Emerging Crisis of Aged Homelessness” puts hard data and statistics in place to support the sentiments felt nationwide.

As many feared, senior homelessness is not only increasing, but it is doing so at a rate that could mean it will nearly triple in the next six years. The research was presented by Ph.D. holders and various academics from the following institutions:

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of California
  • University of Delaware
  • Boston University
  • New York University
  • The City of New York Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence

According to approximately 30 years of data, post-war Baby Boomers have faced increased vulnerability to homelessness since birth. Factors fueling this predisposition to homelessness are many.

Some of the most impactful include:

  • Highly competitive labor and housing markets
  • Decreased and stagnant wages
  • Massive rental rate increases
  • Unemployment
  • Underemployment
  • Back-to-back recessions and more

Based on historical health and homeless shelter records and future population projections, the cross-sectional analysis indicates that senior homelessness for the 55 and over crowd will likely triple by 2030, meaning in the next six years.

What Will Our Country Look Like in 2030 if Senior Homelessness Triples?

Given the accelerated rates of cognitive decline and decreased mobility, the tripling of the senior homeless population would almost certainly lead to premature aging.

Studies show that seniors thrust into the desolate state of homelessness age about 20 years faster than their housed counterparts in terms of physical and cognitive capabilities. With this information in mind, it’s easy to see that the tripling of senior homelessness would strain the US healthcare system immensely.

Researchers project that healthcare costs in metropolitan cities like New York will triple along with the senior homeless population, moving from an expense of $150 million to an astronomical $461 million a year. A similar outlook in healthcare costs is expected to take place in Boston.

LA County’s healthcare services are projected to increase by 80% between 2011 and 2026 and then, perhaps, exhibit a slight decrease in the following four years.

It isn’t just the healthcare system that is likely to feel a strain if senior homelessness triples. Other social systems like the shelter system, the service sector, mental health facilities, and long-term care facilities are all likely to be inundated with homeless senior citizens in need.

This reality is a mere six years in the making. The best approach is not preparation. It is prevention.

How Can We Prevent Senior Homelessness from Tripling in the Next Six Years?

Study researchers suggest imploring targeted housing interventions to prevent this doomsday scenario. These housing intervention methods include:

  • Rental vouchers
  • Rapid Rehousing
  • Shallow rental subsidies or rental assistance

Permanent supportive housing should always be the end goal in addressing homelessness. This particular subgroup of seniors will likely also need case management and access to home healthcare services. 

These are lofty goals, but with the proper structure, they are achievable. In the end, this prevention will save lives and money.

Tell Your Local Representatives to Protect Our Seniors from Homelessness

Growing old is nerve-racking enough just in terms of dealing with the decline in health, mobility, and cognitive capabilities. Our seniors should not have to approach these apprehensive years, fearing they will have to live and eventually die outside on the streets.

Please talk to your representatives about putting more safeguards in place to prevent senior homelessness and homelessness in general.

Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith


Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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