February 17, 2023

How Do Older Adults Exit Homelessness?

A new report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “Connecting Older Adults to Housing: Examining Disparities,” sheds light on how older adults exit homelessness. The report, published in January 2023, analyzes a dataset of more than 64,000 people aged 25 and older to assess how homeless service systems are meeting the needs of older adults exiting into housing.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Researchers found that older adults experiencing homelessness are more likely to exit to Permanent Supportive Housing when they are unsheltered vs. sheltered, but that exiting to PSH is more likely for younger older adults than older adults 75 and older (more than 22% of people ages 55 – 64 exited to PSH compared with less than 2% of people 75 and older).
  • The Alliance also found that older adults experiencing homelessness in a shelter are more likely to exit to a Rapid Re-Housing program. The authors posit these two findings could be because some existing PSH cannot always meet the changing accessibility needs of older adults and sometimes there is not enough PSH is available; and, that Rapid Re-Housing may be used as a bridge to different permanent housing (e.g., HUD’s Section 202 program).
  • The data revealed racial disparities among older adults experiencing homelessness. Black and Hispanic older adults were disproportionately disconnected from PSH and consequently were more likely to utilize alternatives outside of the homelessness system to address their housing needs, the report found.