“I never thought I’d be living in my car at age 66,” writes CeliaSue Hecht, a freelance journalist and editor who says she’s gone from being middle-class most of her life to being “nouveau poor.”
Elderly homelessness is increasing in America thanks to slow economic recovery and an aging baby boomer population, says Hecht, with the 51-and-older group accounting for nearly a third of the nation’s homeless population.
Unemployment rose a full 5 percentage points in 2009, two years after the start of the U.S. recession, and peaked at 10 percent the next year. Like many Americans living from paycheck to paycheck, Hecht saw good paying jobs dry up and new job opportunities vanish.
Add to this, the lack of affordable places to live. “The housing crash and its chilling effect on mortgage lending have hit the poor the hardest,” says Hecht.
She’s currently researching housing solutions and “looking into creating a nonprofit where people can donate RVs, campers, and trailers for elderly women who need homes” — though she needs to devote most of her energy to finding a safe place to sleep and something to eat for herself and her dog each and every day.