A Rising Tide Lifts All Yachts; The Rest Are Just Takers
Somehow, despite decades of trickle-down economics and patting the rich on their little heinies, this is happening:
The homeless in America are getting old.
There were 306,000 people over 50 living on the streets in 2014, the most recent data available, a 20 percent jump since 2007, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They now make up 31 percent of the nation’s homeless population...
Many older homeless people have been on the streets for almost a generation, analysts say, a legacy of the recessions of the late 1970s and early 1980s, federal housing cutbacks and an epidemic of crack cocaine. They bring with them a complicated history that may include a journey from prison to mental health clinic to rehabilitation center and back to the sidewalks.
But not all homeless people have to look very far back to pinpoint when they fell out of polite society:
Some are more recent arrivals and have been forced — at a time of life when some people their age are debating whether to retire to Arizona or to Florida — to learn the ways of homelessness after losing jobs in the latest economic downturn. And there are some on a fixed income who cannot afford the rent in places like Los Angeles, which has a vacancy rate of less than 3 percent...
Homeless veterans of all ages receive housing vouchers, and federally subsidized low-income housing projects give preference to the elderly. But few of the older homeless people have worked the time required to qualify for Social Security, much less put aside money for a 401(k) or employee retirement plan.
That leaves them to turn to Supplemental Security Income, or S.S.I., a program set up to help poor older people and the disabled that typically pays around $733 a month. But S.S.I. is for people 65 and over, and Social Security does not start until age 62.
By then it might be too late. Experts say the average life span for a homeless person living on the street is 64 years.
This, at a time when mental health services are inadequate, overwhelmed, or non-existent. This, at a time when Republicans think it's a swell idea to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, while engineering new policies guaranteed to put more assets in the pockets of their biggest donors.
Sylvia Walker, 70, lives on Skid Row in a wheelchair.
Glen Fox, 75, lives in a tent by the freeway.
We just spent the weekend remembering those who suffered and died to keep us free. Is this what they died for?