Another day, another story about the homeless problem in Los Angeles County. While L.A.'s overall homeless population decreased slightly this year, the population of homeless people age 62 and up rose 22%, accounting for 5,000 people.
The surge took some L.A. officials by surprise with advocates saying "the city and county have been slow to respond to the graying of the homeless population."
The Los Angeles Times interviewed some of L.A.'s older homeless population and sought out their reasons for living on the streets. One thing they all seemed to have in common was a debt in medical bills of some sort and a lack of resources and accommodations for the older and ailing at shelters and emergency housing.
The rising costs of living in Los Angeles County has also been a major influence on the inability to keep a roof over their head for majority of the elderly who live on fixed or limited incomes.
Mike Neely, a former homeless commissioner who now sits on the L.A. County Commission for Older Adults told the LA Times,
“How can you reasonably expect an individual who is damn near 80 years old to survive [shelters] … unless we have specialized facilities? We’re not targeting older homeless people for services.”
The city and county were helping the older homeless people with job training, elder abuse protection, legal aid, cash-assistance, and move-in costs before the surge according to the city’s senior project manager for homelessness strategies, Christina Miller.
However the county has called for staff recommendations on how to expand older homeless services.
One of the homeless men interviewed joked, “The joke is if I don’t survive this time, the cemetery is close by.”
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