Researchers have warned that the number of older adults (age 55 and above) will increase in the unsheltered and sheltered homeless population over the next decade unless policymakers take significant action to prevent it. The “graying” of the homeless population is already underway in many localities, often outpacing providers’ ability to modify program services and practices to accommodate their unique needs.

Providers and system leaders would benefit from analyzing programmatic and systemic responses that center older adults, particularly older adults of color and those with complex health issues. When their needs are put at the forefront in assessing performance and service delivery, it may quickly become evident that some required adjustments in practices are needed.

Among the many adjustments will be the retention and development of strategies to keep people safe from COVID-19. The virus remains a threat to people experiencing homelessness, particularly for older adults. What should providers and system leaders do to protect them?

  • Carefully Consider Risk to Older Adults Before Dismantling COVID-19 Safety Measures
  • Promote Full Vaccinations – Including Second Booster Shot for Older Adults
  • Target Housing Resources to Help Older Adults Escape Homelessness
  • Foster New Service Connections

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, in close coordination with national and local partners working to end homelessness, will work to deepen its understanding of homelessness among older adults and strategies to end it. As always, we will learn from the innovations of local partners who generously share their experiences and insights with us and other colleagues.

It is our hope that more localities will examine their homelessness data with an intersectional lens. This will help communities to understand the different experiences of homelessness and outcomes of older adults (ages 55-64, and those 65 and above who may be eligible for other resources) across race, gender, and other characteristics. This will help us better understand needs, challenges and assess when we are making progress (and for whom). The Alliance urges localities analyzing their 2022 Point-in-Time Count data to examine (and share with us!) the prevalence of older adults experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness. This data will provide an important step forward in the advancement of policy solutions.

Read the full article about older adults experiencing homelessness by Sharon McDonald at National Alliance to End Homelessness.