Help for Homeless Seniors and Where to Find It

In many cities and rural communities, seniors are struggling to find and maintain adequate housing. Review potential solutions for older Americans who are on the edge of homelessness or already there.
A homeless older man sits on the steps in front of a building in a city

According to the National Health Care for Homeless Council, by 2050, it is estimated that 95,000 will be living without stable housing. This population is particularly vulnerable to violence, exploitation, and disease.

Many of these homeless seniors are living on the streets, in cars, or in abandoned buildings. They often have no access to basic necessities like food, water, and shelter. As a result, they are at risk for exposure to extreme weather conditions, illness, and injury.

In many communities, programs exist to help homeless senior citizens as well as provide aid to help avoid eviction, maintain their housing, and prevent homelessness from occurring.

Options for Near Homeless

Family and Friends

If someone you know is struggling to pay their rent, they may be facing eviction. The first step to avoiding eviction is to get the money to pay the current month’s rent. This may only be a few hundred dollars, which friends or family may be able to provide.

Additionally, friends and family may be happy to help their relative to manage finances, write checks, and organize for ongoing financial management if their health declines.

Affordable Housing

Most cities and communities have affordable senior housing programs. These communities offer rents that are reasonably priced for seniors. However, the problem is availability, as many of these apartment communities have waiting lists of 3-5 years.

While waiting for a spot to open up, seniors can look for alternative senior homeless help like the ones below.

Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America offers many grant programs for seniors who are looking for housing. They have helped 1.5 million people in 45 states with hundreds of human services programs. The VOA Senior living communities offer assisted living options that vary in the different levels of care provided.

Government Programs for Seniors

The U.S. Government has several housing programs available for seniors as well as people with disabilities. If you or someone you know is a senior or living with a disability, some of these programs may be a resource for you.

Housing Choice Voucher: This program helps seniors and people with disabilities afford housing in the private sector.

Supportive Housing for the Elderly: These are independent living apartments with useful services such as cleaning, cooking, and transportation. You can search the HUD Resource Locator under Find Affordable Elderly and Special Needs Housing.

Eldercare Locator: This site offers resources and information regarding housing options for seniors. You can find help in your community by entering your zip code, or city and state.

Housing Help for Older Veterans

If you or someone you know is a veteran, there are additional programs for getting housing help. You can get help and care in residential facilities, which include nursing homes, assisted living, and medical foster homes.

Additionally, the VA may be able to help if you need in-home care to remain in your home. The Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) has two locations serving some military retirees and veterans. These locations in Washington D.C., and Gulfport, MS. Offer recreation, wellness services, as well as assisted living and skilled care options.

Exploring Options of Care

Prevent Eviction

If you are facing homelessness, take steps to find resources and prevent eviction. This may be available to you through The Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program. In many communities, this is typically run through the local United Way, the Council of Jewish Federations, Catholic Charities, Council of Churches, The Salvation Army, The United Way, the American Red Cross, or local government.

This program may be able to help prevent homelessness by offering to fund rent or mortgage, help with utilities, emergency shelter, or food.

Outreach and Help

Many communities offer help for homeless seniors with street outreach programs. As these programs vary from community to community, city-to-city, and state-to-state, check with your local community.

You may also find resources with your local Department of Social Services or a Crisis Unit in your community.

Emergency Shelters

Some cities and communities have emergency shelters that may be able to accommodate needs for immediate housing. Some shelters are willing to make a special effort to help homeless seniors – such as opening up daytime shelters or extending the length of time for providing shelter.

Support Services

Check with a social worker, caseworker, or outreach worker to get help with services. These services may include health care, transportation assistance for low-income seniors, counseling, meals, and training as well as other support services.

Transitional Housing

Typically, transitional housing is a possible step to move from emergency shelter towards permanent housing. While every facility is unique, some offer training programs to help individuals become more self-sufficient.

Supportive and Permanent Housing

There are many types of supportive housing including a group home, a haven, or an assisted living facility.

Permanent housing may include a house, apartment, or boarding house. Some permanent arrangements include single rooms, an adult home, a shared living set-up, or senior apartments.

Depending on your city or county, you may find alternatives that match your unique situation.

Housing Assistance Help

Local agencies offer a wide range of services, including housing, food, health, and safety services. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.

If you need assistance with housing, call 800-569-4287. If you prefer to use the Internet, contact a housing counseling agency in your region.

If you need homeless assistance, HUD offers a list of providers in local communities to contact.

Additionally, HUD funds local programs across the United States. To find a program in your area search at the HUD exchange.

Find Resources

All across the United States, agencies are working hard to prevent eviction, preserve affordable housing, and make a difference in homelessness. You can explore community resources at Just Shelter. This comprehensive list is a database of over 600 organizations, working hard across the country to reduce homelessness.

If you or someone you know is near homelessness, or currently homeless, there is often a solution within reach. Talk with your family and friends. Reach out to a caseworker or social worker in your area. Check out the local community center as well as faith-based organizations. Browse through the other resource articles on Senior Assistance Club. There may be assistance, programs, and options that can help you find shelter.