Although the elderly are homeless for all sorts of reasons, there are some common causes of homelessness for everyone. The causes of elderly homelessness are mostly financial. The most common cause of homelessness is income. The elderly retire and do not make the same income as they did while working. Because their income is low, they receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to live off of. However, SSI is usually very low and not even above the poverty line. The maximum SSI monthly benefit in Washington D.C. is $850 for an individual, which is well below the poverty line (NLIHC, 2007). These monthly benefits have to be used to pay bills, buy food, and pay for housing. SSI benefits do not last very long because they are so small and the cost of housing usually diminishes the benefit before it can go any further.
The cost of housing is the second most common cause of homelessness among the elderly. It is hard to find affordable housing in many areas, especially in busy cities. The cost of a one bedroom apartment in Washington D.C. was $1,134 (NLIHC, 2007). Many of the elderly have a hard time paying for housing because SSI will only pay housing if the cost is thirty percent of their SSI benefit. Many of the elderly who are having issues paying for the cost of housing can apply for section 8 vouchers, but there is an ironic twist to this option. In order to receive section 8 vouchers to avoid homelessness, the person applying has to already be homeless. Once the person is homeless, it will be very difficult to apply for section 8 because they don’t have a permanent address or a way to keep in contact with any agencies.
Some of the other causes of elderly homelessness include physical and mental health. The problem with the health of the elderly is that most of them have some sort of illness that prevents them from being able to take care of themselves and their home. The elderly are more likely to experience a disruption in their ability to care or provide...
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