by Carol Leish, MA
“A common denominator for older adults being at risk of facing homelessness is a fixed low income that isn’t keeping pace with the cost of housing in Ventura County,” according to Carey Aldava, Manager of Ventura County Adult Protective Services Program. “Many older adults who face homelessness are affected by the increased cost of housing in California and the lack of affordable senior housing options. According to 2022 data from the Homeless Management Information System, 25% of those experiencing homelessness in Ventura County are older adults living on a fixed social security income. Older women may be disproportionately impacted by the loss of their spouse’s income, which affects their ability to afford housing”
Going through the pandemic has affected older adults in various ways. Aldava said, “During the pandemic, some older adults may have lost a spouse who supplied additional income to the household. Some dependent adults may no longer have been able to afford their existing housing and may have had to relocate, or in some cases, have become homeless for the first time. The United Way of Ventura County’s Landlord Engagement Program has been offering signing bonuses and holding deposits to help secure more rental units for low-income households. To learn more, visit: www.unitedendhomelessvc.org/landloard-engagement-program.
“Understanding how the pandemic disproportionally has affected the need of special populations, like the elderly and people who are unhoused, could be helpful in being able to better address issues related to the pandemic in Ventura County.
“Older adults who qualify as Adult Protective Services (APS), clients and have a current protective issue,” may be eligible for emergency housing funds through APS. To qualify for APS services, adults must be 60 and older or between the ages of 18-59 with challenges caring for themselves and needing someone to advocate for them.” As to resources available, Aldava said.
According to Jennifer Harkey with the Ventura County Continuum of Care in the County’s Executive Office, “the Ventura County Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program provides grant funding to local residents who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness (received a notice to vacate). To learn more, call: (805) 385-1800 or visit: www.vchsa.org/homeless-services-more.”
The connection of resources can help. Harkey said, “Our community can better tackle homelessness by collaborating and working together as a community, which includes: helping to connect people to resources, working with landlords to advocate for permanent housing options, and sometimes even providing cash assistance that may be available to help people get back on their feet. Shared housing options for seniors on fixed incomes is one creative approach in this high-cost rental market. The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging has a HomeShare program to help match renters/owners who are interested in sharing a home. To learn more call: (805) 477-5300 or visit: www.vcaaa.org/our-services/housing.”
Reporting self-neglect of an individual is important. “If an older or dependent adult lacks housing, that is considered a type of self-neglect and is reportable to Adult Protective Services,” according to Aldava.
“Our team would respond to the report by working to link the older or dependent adult to needed services and provide them with available housing options within the community. Reports of suspected abuse or neglect may be made online at www.reporttoaps.org or by calling the Child and Adult & Neglect Hotline at: (805) 654-3200.
“Also, the Ventura County Continuum of Care offers resources for those experiencing homelessness who need housing, a shelter or other resources. Please call: 2-1-1 or visit: www.venturaacoc.org.