Increasing numbers in homelessness for Arizona seniors
The number of homeless seniors in Arizona continues to rise. The Area Agency on Aging provides a range of services and resources for the elder population. The group also owns Justa Center, a day center for seniors providing basic needs including laundry service, hot showers and meals.
The center provides day respite for seniors. Area Agency on Aging bought the building and the adjacent property two years ago when the Center was in danger of closing because of financial challenges. They are now planning to build a new building to accommodate the needs of the senior homeless population.
Mary Lynn Kasunic, CEO of Area Agency on Aging, joined us to address the issue from the big picture view, while Dean Scheinert, Executive Director of the Justa Center, discussed what the Center is doing and seeing every day.
“It’s a perfect storm of a confluence of events. Lack of affordable housing. A lot of elderly adults can’t afford to pay their rent. They are on fixed incomes,” Scheinert said.
Scheinert said Arizona has an older population due to the large retirement population and said they have been priced out of the rental market. Kasunic said her organization receives approximately 5,000 calls a year from seniors needing services and assistance.
“The elderly homeless problem is homelessness on steroids,” Scheinert said. He also said one solution to this issue is funding for programs like Justa Center and access to affordable housing.
Kasunic said the City of Phoenix is working on purchasing old hotel buildings to convert into housing for seniors.
A new senior center is being built for Justa Center which will allow the group to expand its services. Justa Center is located in downtown Phoenix. If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, contact Area Agency on Aging at 602-264-2255.