Philadelphia defenders sound alarm over senior homelessness crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Philadelphia housing experts warn that a staggering number of seniors find themselves homeless later in life.

State of play: In fiscal year 2021, the city reported that more than 3,100 seniors have spent time in Philadelphia shelters.

  • Pathways to Housing executive director Bill Maroon told Axios that almost 16% of the 500 people the local housing advocacy group has helped shelter are 65 and older.

Why is this important: The organization expects that number to double over the next five years as more older people leave the workplace.

  • Philadelphia too warned in a report last year that the population of adults aged 55 and older experiencing homelessness is expected to increase as baby boomers and Gen Xers age.
  • “It’s a major issue that I don’t think a lot of people pay attention to,” Maroon said.

Between the lines: Adults 65 and older make up about 13% of the more than 350,000 Philadelphians living below the poverty line, the highest percentage in at least five years, according to the latest US census data.

The big picture: Health care facilities and advocacy organizations are bracing for a surge of people reaching retirement age in the coming years and competing for already limited resources for aging Americans, Reporting by Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi of Axios

  • An estimated 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the United States, and the elderly population is expected to double over the next few decades.

Enlarge: Local advocates tell Axios that Philadelphia’s affordable housing crisis is making it harder for needy seniors, especially those living with disabilities, to find housing.

  • “They either age in place, or they don’t have a place to age,” said Nora Dowd Eisenhower, of the Mayor’s Commission on Aging.

By the numbers: The average one-bedroom rent in Philadelphia has ballooned to about $2,000 per monthexcluding pensioners who live exclusively on social security income (the average monthly payment is around $1,630).

What they say : Eisenhower said city officials are encouraging a home sharing program in older people who are “home rich” to help offset rising costs.

  • silver nestan app similar to Airbnb, also helps match those looking for such an arrangement and filters out potential roommates who can offer companionship or an extra pair of hands to isolated seniors in need, Eisenhower said.

If you need help: PCA has a budget of about $100 million to help older people connect to services, said Eisenhower, who is also a member of the organization’s board of directors.

  • CPA President Dr. Najja Orr encourages family members to check in on older loved ones, especially during the holiday season. The organization’s senior centers also organize events for those who might find themselves without a place to go for the holidays.
  • PCA Hotline: 215-765-9040 or

Comments are closed.