The aging homeless population

Forget everything the liberal media told you about homelessness. The problem is not a chronic situation. Mainly, it is confined to static group, who chose and continue to choose life on the streets. That's the good news. But the bad news is that the "care providers" who make their living ministering to them are going to want a lot more money soon.

The San Francisco Chronicle goes into full hand—wringing mode this morning as it reports on a curious phenomenon: the homeless population is rapidly aging. San Francisco is plagued with a homeless population that is huge, relative to its population, and which receives tens of millions of dollars in city—funded assistance.

Thirty UC researchers and students surveyed homeless people in San Francisco during four periods —— 1990—1994, 1996—1997, 1999—2000 and 2003 —— and found the median age of the homeless rose from 37 years old at the start to 46 by the end.

But wait! What about all those stories we've heard about families being thrown onto the street? Aren't most people "just a paycheck away" from homelessness? Statistically, that appears to be bunkum.

You don't get this kind of aging of the group unless there are very, very few young people becoming homeless. In fact, the stats suggest that a fairly static group of people chose and hang onto their homeless status, and are aging, just like members of any other profession. They would be mostly members of the baby boomer generation, come to think of it, wouldn't they?

But of course, when "experts" from the social service world speak, we know where the responsibility is sure to lie:

The findings support what many social workers have long suspected —— that there was a "big bang" homeless population explosion as federal housing programs were slashed and the closing of mental hospitals hit home in the mid—1980s and that this core group constitutes the bulk of the street population.

That's right: it's Reagan's fault. Never mind that it was the Left which told us mental illness was just a construct imposed by the bourgeois on people who understood the world differently, and got the mental hospitals closed. And never mind that federal housing programs have always been far less important than local housing programs. And above all, never hold homeless people responsible for what they do.

And don't forget to hang onto your wallet, while you are at it. One of the experts tells us:

"The already—troubling health issues for these older street people are not going to go away. They will just get worse, and we will see them in increasing numbers in our hospitals...  Giving them a residence with on—site health care available will go a long way toward avoiding these troubles."

Gee, a lot of us are thinking ahead and planning for the day when we may need a residence with on—site health care. If someone would give it to me, I'd have more money to spend on fun stuff, come to think of it. My old fashioned analog TV is looking kind of small lately, for instance.

Spare change?

Thomas Lifson   8 04 06

Forget everything the liberal media told you about homelessness. The problem is not a chronic situation. Mainly, it is confined to static group, who chose and continue to choose life on the streets. That's the good news. But the bad news is that the "care providers" who make their living ministering to them are going to want a lot more money soon.

The San Francisco Chronicle goes into full hand—wringing mode this morning as it reports on a curious phenomenon: the homeless population is rapidly aging. San Francisco is plagued with a homeless population that is huge, relative to its population, and which receives tens of millions of dollars in city—funded assistance.

Thirty UC researchers and students surveyed homeless people in San Francisco during four periods —— 1990—1994, 1996—1997, 1999—2000 and 2003 —— and found the median age of the homeless rose from 37 years old at the start to 46 by the end.

But wait! What about all those stories we've heard about families being thrown onto the street? Aren't most people "just a paycheck away" from homelessness? Statistically, that appears to be bunkum.

You don't get this kind of aging of the group unless there are very, very few young people becoming homeless. In fact, the stats suggest that a fairly static group of people chose and hang onto their homeless status, and are aging, just like members of any other profession. They would be mostly members of the baby boomer generation, come to think of it, wouldn't they?

But of course, when "experts" from the social service world speak, we know where the responsibility is sure to lie:

The findings support what many social workers have long suspected —— that there was a "big bang" homeless population explosion as federal housing programs were slashed and the closing of mental hospitals hit home in the mid—1980s and that this core group constitutes the bulk of the street population.

That's right: it's Reagan's fault. Never mind that it was the Left which told us mental illness was just a construct imposed by the bourgeois on people who understood the world differently, and got the mental hospitals closed. And never mind that federal housing programs have always been far less important than local housing programs. And above all, never hold homeless people responsible for what they do.

And don't forget to hang onto your wallet, while you are at it. One of the experts tells us:

"The already—troubling health issues for these older street people are not going to go away. They will just get worse, and we will see them in increasing numbers in our hospitals...  Giving them a residence with on—site health care available will go a long way toward avoiding these troubles."

Gee, a lot of us are thinking ahead and planning for the day when we may need a residence with on—site health care. If someone would give it to me, I'd have more money to spend on fun stuff, come to think of it. My old fashioned analog TV is looking kind of small lately, for instance.

Spare change?

Thomas Lifson   8 04 06