Phoenix elderly homeless population exceeds 7,000

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There are over 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Phoenix. Everyone has a unique story how they arrived at being homeless, but some simply ran out of money after trips to the hospital. We spoke with Amy Schwabenlender, the Executive Director at Human Service Campus for more.

Last year, they served 11,000 “unduplicated” people. They have about thirteen acres of property, and are located in Downtown Phoenix. The goal of the organization is to end individual’s homelessness.

A lot of these people are experiencing homelessness for the first time, and a large portion of them are elderly women.

“They are in their 70s, their 80s year old, and they’ve never had this kind of experience before where they have probably lost so much. If they were married, they lost a spouse. They do not know where to start. With rents rising, lack of affordable housing, people that maybe owned a home with their spouse, now without their spouse, they can no longer afford their home… It’s a frightening place to be in,” Schwabenlender said.

They have seen an increase in people falling into and experiencing homelessness, but cannot be sure yet if the elderly population is particularly rising faster than youth. The 18 to 25 brackets is also being seen in homelessness more, according to Schwabenlender.

Medical conditions and mobility issues come into play as well. “We have lots of individuals using walkers, motorized scooters… Homelessness ages people faster. Sometimes there is a perception that if you see a certain individual in a wheelchair you start to judge them and guess that they are elderly, and sometimes the people that others suspect are maybe 60 or 70 years old, are not. They are in their 50s,” Schwabenlender said.

Some people come to their center or after recovery of an illness or injury, but do not know have a home to go.

Amy Schwabenlender/Exec. Director, Human Service Campus

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