In recent years, researchers have sounded an alarm about projected growths in older adult homelessness. The recent release of the 2019–2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 2, along with previous versions of the report, confirm these concerns.

People using emergency shelters, transitional housing, or safe havens are more likely to be under the age of 50, but the share of those 50 and older has been growing. According to Part 2 of the previous AHAR (published in 2017), homelessness among adults over 50 years of age rose from nearly 23 percent of the total sheltered homeless population in 2007 to over 33 percent 10 years later. In terms of sheer numbers, this was nearly 30,000 more sheltered people over the 10-year period for just those 62 and older.

The latest AHAR Part 2, which was released this month and shows sheltered homelessness data in 2019 and 2020, reports that this trend continued during the early part of the pandemic. In 2020, the share of people experiencing sheltered homelessness who were 55 and older was 18 percent, up from 16.5 percent in 2019. Older adults were still generally considered to be underrepresented among overall people experiencing sheltered homelessness in 2020 since those aged 55 and older comprised a greater share of the U.S. population.

Importantly, while most homeless older adults were in the 55 to 64 age range, increases in older adult homelessness were driven mostly by the rising share of elderly adults—those 65 and older. This group represents one of the most vulnerable and least resourced age groups. Increases in older adult homelessness were most pronounced amongst people experiencing chronic homelessness, veterans, and people living in permanent supportive housing (PSH). These numbers will be important to monitor, especially when considering if homeless service programs are adequately equipped to serve older adults in these groups and what further resources can be allocated.

Read the full article about older adult homelessness by Andrew Hall at National Alliance to End Homelessness.