New Journeys is one of the seven housing programs offered by New Endeavors by Women (NEW.) Serving senior women, New Journeys provides housing for six women aged 55 and older.
“There’s been a spike in elderly homelessness over the past five years or so,” explains NEW Program Director James Brown. “New Journeys has been so successful that we’re starting a second program – New Journeys II – in October.”
With the new program, 15 more senior women will be able to call New Journeys II home. As James pointed out, the need has been escalating. And the programs to support the elderly are few and far between in the Washington, DC area.
Studies across the U.S. have shown a clear upward trend in the proportion of ‘older’ persons’ (aged 50-64) among the homeless population. This is a group which frequently falls between the cracks of governmental safety nets. They are not old enough to qualify for Medicare, however, when their physical health is assaulted by poor nutrition and severe living conditions they may eventually resemble someone much older.
Thanks to a devastating housing crisis hitting just as the first Baby Boomers reached retirement, nearly half of the country’s homeless are now over the age of 50. And the number will only rise as the generation continues to age. According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the number of homeless seniors will double between 2010 and 2050 — leaving an estimated 95,000 elderly citizens without shelter.
“It’s a critical and growing problem,” says Wanda Steptoe, executive director of NEW. “We’re so happy that we can step in and do something about it.”
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