Number of homeless seniors rises across Maricopa County

According to the Maricopa Association of Governments, senior homelessness shot up 20% this summer and 38% since June 2021.
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 4:58 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - There’s always a lot going on at the Opportunities West Senior Center in Phoenix from dominoes to arts and crafts and sewing.

However, 83-year old Connie Ozuna admits that it’s been hard to stay focused on the activities. “Water went up, gas went up, and electricity went up,” said Ozuna. “The phone went up, too.”

The Phoenix grandmother is one of many seniors worried they could end up on the street. According to the Maricopa Association of Governments, senior homelessness shot up 20% this summer and 38% since June 2021.

Housing advocates are pointing to rising rent prices as one of the contributing factors, leading to a record number of evictions. A lot of seniors ages 62 and over live on a fixed income, so many can no longer afford to stay where they are at. A lack of housing across the Phoenix metro area has also greatly reduced the number of affordable options.

Bobbie Kithcart is the nursing supervisor at the Justa Center in downtown Phoenix which provides resources and services to struggling seniors. She said the biggest key is convincing seniors to reach out for help before they’re homeless, but its not that simple.

“Here you are, lived a whole life, worked really hard and now you are on a fixed income, and you’re embarrassed as can be to try and reach out,” said Kithcart. “If they can overcome that, we can help them and they don’t need to feel embarrassed about it.” There are an assortment of resources available to help seniors with rent, utilities and other expenses.

“What would I do if it happened to me?” asked Ozuna. “I ask myself that question, even though I have a place to live.” To see what resources are available for seniors visit https://www.justacenter.org/.