Twin Cities Shelters Scramble to Help Homeless Seniors

Adults 55 and older are Minnesota’s fastest-growing homeless population, according to a Wilder Foundation study. Baby boomers — especially women — are struggling to pay housing and medical bills, social service workers said. And if they lose their homes, they are the age group most likely to get stuck in homelessness, Catholic Charities researchers found. Agencies are forming plans to handle and reduce the elder homeless population. The Minnesota Board on Aging started gathering information on the trend last year and recently began to work with shelters to connect people with government benefits. The Office to End Homelessness is in the midst of generating policy recommendations to “triage” the population. Meanwhile, staff at shelters in Hennepin and Ramsey counties say the age wave has hit and they are not equipped to handle it.

Elders still make up a small percentage of the overall homeless population, but the Wilder Foundation found that from 2009 to 2012, the number of homeless men 55 and older in Minnesota increased by 44 percent. Women increased 57 percent — from 134 to 211 people, the study found. Baby boomers in their 50s and early 60s — who are too young to receive Social Security but whose age poses job-hunting challenges — face a greater risk of becoming homeless, social service providers said.

Source/more: Minneapolis Star Tribune

David Wingate is an elder law attorney practicing in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice concentrates on wills, powers of attorney, trusts, asset protection and Medicaid.

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