Justice in Aging has a new report out on elders and homelessness. You don't have to read too far to realize that what presents as a housing problem is at least as much a health care problem and an income support problem. If a low income senior needs accessible housing from the very lowest niche in the commercial housing market and has only SSI to spend (roughly 75 percent of the federal poverty level), they are in big trouble in many American cities.
Of course, so are many others. Matthew Desmond's Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City makes it clear that single mothers with younger children are widely discriminated against in the private housing market while what little there is of residual public housing has become oriented toward elders and individuals with disabilities. And the competition for lowest rent housing is so fierce that the mere presence of children (representing hard wear and tear on the rental unit as well as possible knowing eyes of government employees there to take stock of often sub-standard housing) is enough to force many families to disband or move from eviction to eviction — living as urban nomads with none of the attendant home and school stability children crave and need.
The irony that urban rental prices are astonishingly high in the poorest neighborhoods, mostly because they can be, means that rents are paid that might buy better housing and environment elsewhere. Evicted is a clear-eyed look a the winners and losers in a housing system uninterested in housing stability for the families involved. It is, after all, in the churn that money is made. Many evictions and encounters with the law later, I can only wonder where these single mother heads of household will live in their own years as elders.