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Addressing the Needs of Older Adults Experiencing Homelessness

April 30, 2019

On May 15, 2018, Board of Supervisor Board Motion requested a response to addressing the needs of older adults, as a result of the rising numbers of seniors experiencing homelessness. The Board of Supervisors instructed The Chief Executive Office (CEO) in collaboration with Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA), The Department of Workforce Development & Aging Services  (WDACS), Health Services (DHS), Mental Health (DMH), Department Public Social Services (DPSS), the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA), and the Los Angeles City Department on Aging (LADOA) to report back with the following information:

  1. A Description of what has been done to address the needs of older adults experiencing homelessness
  2. An Assessment of how Measure H funded strategies are addressing the needs of older adults
  3. Provide any opportunities to strengthen the response to the needs of older adults in the future

To understand what is driving seniors into homelessness, LAHSA has partnered with multiple organizations including WDAC’s Adult Protective Service and homeless providers outreach teams in Service Planning Area's 1, 4, 5, 8.  These efforts allow for weekly outreach/in-reach at senior centers and senior meal sites, as well as dedicated case management. LAHSA has also partnered with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), and The Los Angeles Aging & Advocacy Coalition to provide cross-training for both the Aging and Homeless Services System for the purpose to bridge the divide between homeless services and aging sector, to build knowledge and capacity through a series of learning convenings. These convenings create a space for listening as we create the space for open dialogue, questions, and sharing.

Close to a year later, the workgroup has found important indicators to understand and address the needs of older adults:

Key indicators

  • Benefits and income for aging persons have not kept up with rents. From 2012 to 2017, average rents in LA County increased at three times the rate of the cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security income, and twice the rate of median household income for seniors.
  • There are 125,000 low-income seniors in the city of Los Angeles and only 7,800 affordable units for seniors.
  • Sixty percent of unsheltered people above the age of 55 said their homelessness was due to unemployment or financial reasons, including eviction or foreclosure.

How to prevent homelessness

  • performing outreach to enroll qualifying seniors in Supplemental Security Income (or SSI), VA benefits, and other benefits
  • provide legal assistance and temporary rental subsidies to help people stay in their homes
  • partnering with Adult Protective Services to ensure LAHSA staff are available to seniors calling their hotline, so they can be connected quickly to prevention services and other homeless programs homeless programs

How to help seniors experiencing homelessness

  • perform weekly outreach at senior centers and senior meal sites
  • work with the Department of Health Services to make more dedicated interim housing beds available to seniors
  • ensuring prioritization of services for the most vulnerable individuals

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is a joint powers authority of the city and county of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages more than $300 million annually in federal, state, county, and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing, and services to people experiencing homelessness. For more information visit www.lahsa.org.

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