Albany’s elderly homeless population grows

A homeless individual tends to their tent.
A homeless individual tends to their tent.(WALB)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -Homelessness is a growing issue in America, but more specifically, more seniors are experiencing difficulties due to many financial factors.

According to the American Bar Association, many of these homeless seniors have been homeless throughout their life, and experience things such as substance abuse or mental disabilities. However, they say another large portion of the senior homeless population are people who either lost their jobs or lost their housing because they were on a fixed income and could no longer afford the rent due to other expenses.

WALB’s Gabrielle Taite spoke with staff member Aaron Johnson at Albany State University who is an assistant professor. He says he believes it’s easier for seniors to become homeless now more than ever.

Aaron Johnson is an Assistant Professor at Albany State University. He says it is up to both...
Aaron Johnson is an Assistant Professor at Albany State University. He says it is up to both the people and policymakers to fix this growing issue.(WALB)

“When you think about the environment that we’re in right now, there’s a lot of high cost of living. Not only are food prices going up, gas prices are going up, but rental prices are going up. Housing prices,” Johnson said. “So when I think about people running a year-to-year lease when that lease comes up during these difficult times, it can be hard to renew.”

Johnson adds that any significant change can make it difficult for people to keep a roof over their heads. However, he says most importantly, besides the ever-changing economy, people should submerge themselves in financial literacy, as he says it goes a long way.

Homeless individuals under a bridge.
Homeless individuals under a bridge.(WALB)

Larry Daniel is the Program Director and Outreach Coordinator at Albany Rescue Mission. He says that the economy greatly affects when and how many people have to resort to a homeless shelter.

“We do have those that come to us shortly thereafter retirement or those that did finally reach the age for social security,” Daniel said. “They just simply don’t make enough to sustain a normal household. Something that they were used to doing when they were working. They just don’t have the funds for it.”

Leftover belongings in an open field.
Leftover belongings in an open field.(WALB)

However, the biggest way to make a change in this area, according to Johnson is to educate yourself on the matter and participate in local elections.

“If that’s an issue that you care about is taking care of our seniors, and what method we should do to figure that out, I would just say get educated on the issues. Vote your values,” Johnson said.

Johnson adds that it’s up to both the people and policymakers to fix this issue.

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