Seniors join ‘new’ homeless

Seniors join ‘new’ homeless

housing market, wolverton, cagle, Dec. 23, 2013I’m gettin’ up there in years myself — 60 in June. So I’m sympathetic.

The latest crisis to hit California is that its massively high cost of living is pushing seniors out onto the streets. Social Security checks, small pensions and food stamps might cut it in Michigan, but not in California.

The Contra Costa Times reports:

OAKLAND — Yolande Cole played by all the rules.

She always worked, as a temp doing administrative work and later as a caregiver for the elderly. She didn’t drink or do drugs and paid her bills.

Yet in the 68th year of her life — a time Cole had long looked forward to finally slow down — she found herself homeless after a live-work situation in San Francisco didn’t pan out.

In one moment, Cole lost not only her job, but also a roof over her head. She moved in with friends, but after several months of couch surfing, she found herself filling out an application at a homeless shelter in West Oakland.

“I felt like I was stepping off a cliff, like there was no bottom,” recalled Cole, who grew up in New York City and attended San Francisco State University at one point.

The culprits:

Skyrocketing housing prices, together with cuts to food stamps and other programs as well as increased longevity, have resulted in more seniors becoming homeless, said local advocates.

In Alameda County, 9 percent of people older than 65 live on less than $12,000 a year, the federal threshold for poverty, according to the latest figures from the U.S. census. Calculating the number of homeless is more difficult, because many without permanent shelter stay with friends or significant others, while others are simply not located.

As I’ve mentioned before, the main causes are the California Coastal Commission, the Soviet-style bureau that severely restricts housing construction along the coasts, with a massive ripple effect flowing inland at least 50 miles.

And LAFCOs — Local Area Formation Commissions, which also severely restrict construction.

So people like Yolanda Cole built this country, and state — but now are forced by bad policies to live out on the street.

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