Senior Homelessness

According to The Council on Homeless there are currently 6360 families homeless in Brevard County in 2022. This is an increase from 5322 in 2021. One of the largest groups of people being impacted is one I never imagined, senior citizens. Unlike younger people they lack the ability to work one or even 2 jobs to earn money. While many sources give statistics there are not many who differentiate them by age. There are an estimated 397 people living unsheltered in Brevard. There are not nearly enough shelters to house all those people. There are 87 more homeless individuals in Brevard County since 2018, that’s an 81% increase. 

One of the county’s biggest senior resources, Helping Seniors of Brevard states that the problem is simple to explain, but much harder to solve. They receive calls as a resource center for seniors and they have literally doubled over the past year, many of them regarding housing costs. The average social security payment in Jan 2022 was $1614 a month or $19,370 a year. People cannot live off of that amount of money. With rents up in the $1500 to $2000 for a one bedroom we are heading into a terrifying situation for seniors. There is no section 8 funding available right now in Brevard and waiting lists for other rental assist programs are 2-3 years long. So if you get $1614 a month and rent is $1500, you have $114 to pay for everything else. Food, utilities, transportation, medical costs, the list goes on and on. Helping Seniors of Brevard report more and more calls with elderly people who have already become homeless. Some are living in their car, motels, or couch surfing with friends. Many are already living outside in the woods or on the street. 

There was a recent story in the news about a 55+ mobile home park raising the lot rent by $100, multiple residents are being displaced with nowhere else to go. I believe it is harder for people to visualize and face the harsh reality that the elderly are becoming homeless at alarming rates. Take a few minutes and watch a senior citizen, a neighbor, a grandparent, even a stranger. Then imagine them living in the woods, minimal belongings, no place to shower or use a bathroom, no protection from the elements. It’s hard enough to see homeless people at any age but the older people have to struggle so much more. Physical difficulties, medical problems, not having enough to eat or drink, necessary medications, and being a target for crime are all challenges and many more. I see lots of new “affordable” housing being built, yet they are still asking for at least $1500 for a one bedroom. How is that affordable? 

I usually like to end my articles with a “what can I do” type of paragraph but I am unable to find a way to do that with this subject. There are multiple programs trying to help and new housing going up all the time, but if we think a $1500 a month rent for someone making around $1600-$2000 a month is affordable we are heading in the wrong direction.