Seniors Over 50 Make up Almost Half of California’s Unhoused Population

A new study finds that low-income seniors are increasingly unable to find affordable housing.

2 minute read

June 20, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


The “largest and most comprehensive investigation of California’s homeless population in decades” found that close to half of unhoused people in California are over 50, putting them at unique risks as they navigate living on the street or in shelters. Anita Chabria highlights the study’s findings in the Los Angeles Times.

The study, conducted by the University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, reveals that “As Californians age, they are being priced out of housing.” According to the study, “the results held regardless of whether a person was without housing in one of our large cities, or in our less-populated northern and eastern counties.”

The implications of the study indicate that many seniors fall into homelessness after a critical life event, and affordable housing is often not available. “For every 100 extremely low-income people in California, defined as making less than 30% of area median income, there are only 24 units of affordable housing available.” 

Dr. Margot Kushel, lead investigator on the study “said her findings should be a wake-up call that while access to substance use treatment and rebuilding the mental health care system are urgent for some of the homeless population, the only solution to homelessness is housing.” Moreover, “we have to do better at keeping people in the housing they have, through rent subsidies and other direct intervention, when life punches them in the face.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2023 in Los Angeles Times

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Herd of cattle grazing in field with cowboy on horse watching them.

BLM Grazing Lands Largely Fail Health Assessment

Grazing lands under the agency’s management are not meeting its own criteria for ecosystem conservation and sustainable use.

12 minutes ago - High Country News

Blue electric bus labeled with 'All-Electric Bus Wind Powered by PGE' in white in Tigard, Oregon.

TriMet Ridership Grows Thanks to Realignment, Schedule Changes

The agency’s response to post-pandemic changes in travel behavior is paying off.

2 hours ago - Portland Tribune

Close-up from back of woman walking on crosswalk with two small children on either side of her riding bicycles with training wheels.

When Small Projects Make a Big Impact

Small, mundane infrastructure projects can make meaningful changes for pedestrian and bike safety.

4 hours ago - Mayors Innovation Project

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.