California is facing a crisis in senior homelessness. The number of seniors accessing homelessness services has increased 84% since 2017, compared with 43% for all ages. Counties such as Fresno, Yuba-Sutter, and Yolo, San Francisco, Merced and Alameda have witnessed two-fold increases in homelessness among this age group.
The lack of affordable housing, rising rents and limited openings in senior housing facilities have left many people with no other option but to find shelter on the streets. In addition, other factors at play include seniors who have outlived their financial resources, or have little or no social support and are unable to access the services they need due to geographic location or language barriers.
California has seen major budget increases in homelessness services, including funding for permanent supportive housing, and is aiming to build or renovate thousands of units.
The state has also allocated funds to programs that focus on the needs of seniors. But it will take time to get seniors off the streets and into homes.
To truly make progress, experts say, the state and local governments must focus on keeping people from losing housing in the first place, with measures such as rent subsidies, rent freezes and affordable housing.