Elderly homelessness is on the rise


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Nationwide, there are more than 300,000 homeless Americans 50 years of age or older. That’s among the fastest growing populations on the street.

But, here in Huntsville you wouldn’t notice that trend. Michael, a resident at the Downtown Rescue Mission, speaks from what he’s see in his own experience.

“Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, different kind of addictions, lifestyles, or whatever it is, that brings them to their knees. Period,” said

Michael says these new statistics are not surprising.

“Let most of your life get by, and figure you’d make it up tomorrow, and before you know it boom, you’re older and kinda stuck in a cycle,” he said.

Recent reports by the Department of Housing and Urban Development said that the elderly are among the fastest growing population living on the street.

Michael said when you get to a certain age it’s harder for many reasons, among them, physical barriers.

“Maybe they’ve got some handicaps, that kind of lend to the problem too, where it’s harder to either get employed or you just kind of lose drive and motivation,” he said.

Mental illness is also a big contributing factor to the rise of elderly homeless.

“Either they don’t have family, or the family that they have doesn’t know how to cope with it, or the funding from state or government or whatever is getting cut and there’s no place for them to go to get treatment,” said Michael.

Despite the nationwide trend, Huntsville’s very own Downtown Rescue Mission said they have seen fewer elderly residents. But, they said that’s because once an elderly resident comes to the mission, it’s very rare that they ever leave.

Michael said he would love to see even more Downtown Rescue Mission like facilities in Huntsville, because they are a great help, and there’s always more to be done.