A sad reality for so many people over the age of fifty is that at this point in their lives after helping to build this city through their work over the years is the fact that ‘gentrification’ has placed them in the position of not being able to provide decent housing that they can afford. It doesn’t take a bunch of statistics to see that the face of homelessness has changed to a severely increased number of elderly and disabled seniors over the past ten to fifteen years.

The living conditions and the over-crowded conditions of available shelter space keeps many of them on the streets or in places they cannot afford to live in operated by unscrupulous persons and entities which charge rates for sleeping accommodations which exceed $600 per month with limited access to kitchen and bathroom usage, usually a couch, or floor space with no security for personal belongings.

Yes, in place in this city are a few programs that are supposed to help relieve the problem, but access is on a restricted basis and determined by a system that indiscriminately lumps everyone into a one size fits all response that does not take into account the physical, mental, and/or spiritual needs of the applicant because of an anti-discrimination law that seemingly is interpreted to say that all people are alike, and must be treated as such alike and have no say so about who, what, where they share their lives with by instituting a no/low barrier system of placement which says that the home owner and/or program must accept whoever the client is as is. Sadly, that is a national trend being pushed by Homeless coalitions across this nation.

This is not something that I am observing from the outside. This is something I am experiencing personally. I have a friend who has helped me over the last couple of months, but he has a family he must provide for. $600 rent, $142 phone, medications=$742. I only get $754 per month and can’t supplement this because I am on full disability after having 2 strokes, 2 eye operations, and presently have a very unstable blood pressure.

Like me, many others only receive $754 but they have no help.

The new Housing going up is in the form of town homes and condos out of the price range of most individuals. Low income housing is very limited. Many of the persons here in mentioned used to own homes that they no longer are able to care for or afford the taxes on, thus are forced into the streets to try to survive. Some are living in their cars which likewise are old and unstable and not safe.

Those houses could have been remodeled and brought up to code, but again gentrification opens the door for destruction of these homes to the highest bidders who care more about income than they do about people.

Group homes offer no real relief as the major concern is income not health and safety.

OUT OF THE ABYSS INC is concerned because people need help. Families need help. Locally, even the number of Nursing homes have decreased because the prices of physical and mental health assistance has risen, not to mention the costs of medications. The Health and Human Services policies are changing, if not already changed. We need your involvement.

The reality is while you may not have reached your golden years yet, there is a good possibility you will as you keep on living.

James Watson

Out of The Abyss Inc