WI23-14: Pathways into and out of Housing Insecurity and Homelessness: Relationships between Age, Public Program Use, and Housing Stability
Center for Financial Security
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Age-related health and financial changes can threaten an older adult’s housing security and result in homelessness. Becoming unhoused is especially dangerous for older adults since it impacts both their mental and physical health and increases mortality risk. Yet, later-life homelessness is increasingly common. This mixed methods study aims to: (1) identify contributors to later-life housing instability; (2) identify the role of benefits uptake in the instability or in the restabilization process; and (3) identify service needs specific to older people experiencing homelessness. This research will improve our understanding of older adults who experience homelessness, especially those who become homeless for the first time at an advanced age. We will examine their unique attributes, needs, and the barriers and facilitators they experience to accessing resources. Researchers will begin this work by assessing a decade of trends of older adult housing instability across the state of Massachusetts using novel set of administrative data. Researchers will then interview frontline service providers who support diverse older Boston residents experiencing housing instability to surface practitioner perceptions. Findings will spotlight opportunities to increase older adult benefits uptake and improve housing security, either before or after homelessness. The project will also explore whether clients with certain demographic or need profiles rely on specific types of support to access benefits and stabilize their housing.
Older adults, who comprise about a third of the Massachusetts residents using the homelessness services system, are particularly vulnerable to housing insecurity given deterioration in financial resources, social networks, and health and abilities which complicate their capacity to maintain existing housing and to navigate benefits systems. While income from Social Security Administration programs can reduce economic burdens and improve housing stability, older adults, particularly those who are Black and Hispanic, are particularly sensitive to barriers including administrative, technological, and transportation.
Scheckler, Samara, Jennifer Molinsky, Christopher Herbert, John Arenas, Kathleen Guytingco, and Saad Soroya. 2023. "Pathways into and out of Housing Insecurity and Homelessness: Relationships between Age, Public Program Use, and Housing Stability." FY2023 Research Projects. Retirement and Disability Research Center. https://cfsrdrc.wisc.edu/project/wi23-14.