Reality of Miami’s Homeless Boomers

The word Endemic has lost much of its impact from overuse. Its usage has run the gamut from gauging outbreaks of swine flu, to the regularity of beleaguered FCAT scores.

An unfeigned endemic, however, is the occurrence of older adults finding themselves homeless, reports The Examiner.com. In Miami and surrounding South Florida counties, there exist daily episodes of our aging citizens ending up on the streets. Unlike our resilient youth, an older person encounters nearly insurmountable challenges when attempting to rebound toward stabilization.

Upscale Miami, Florida.

Upscale Miami, Florida.

According to a recent newspaper article in the Homeless Voice, writer Tamara McCullough identifies the “Baby boomer booming homeless rate.” McCullough cites a report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, which states, “Homelessness among baby boomers will likely increase by one-third as the U.S. Population ages.”

Moreover, McCullough references a study from the Metro-Dade Homeless Alliance 2010 Homeless Count and Census, which notes, “The counted 50-59 age group is the largest sector representing 32 percent of the homeless population. The 40 age group was behind with 30 percent.”

Florida’s Economic Forecast

As we approach the 4th quarter of 2010, the once dynamic American economy looks dubious, at best. The Florida unemployment rate is quickly nearing 12 percent and any signs of recovery remain speculative.

Aging adults face an uncertain future as many boomers have lost their jobs and unemployment payments are paltry in comparison to their once lucrative salaries. Unlike their parents, boomers cultivated an undisciplined lifestyle, spending most of what they earned and often living beyond their means, tentatively existing just a few paychecks away from homelessness. When you factor in a lack of savings, then disaster becomes imminent.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Eric Morath states, “42% of all individuals filing for bankruptcy were between the ages of 45 and 64 in 2007 and that older Americas are filing for protection from creditors at a much faster rate than younger adults.”

“Bankruptcy filings are increasing fastest among individuals between the ages of 55 and 64. From 2002 to 2007, the percentage of filers in that category grew 65%. By comparison, the demographic group that experienced the largest percentage drop in bankruptcy filings was Americans 25 and younger, down 60% in 2007 from 2002.

“This significant demographic uptick in older bankruptcy filers has outstripped the aging of the general population as a whole,”

Sadly, boomers neglected to save as their parents did, and retirement accounts remain meager. The travesty of the economy has caused housing investments to deteriorate and the thought of selling homes and using the equity to augment retirement has disappeared.

Despite these regretful events, many boomers have fared well. The generation of Hippies, Woodstock, Vietnam, Civil Rights, landing on the moon and the sexual revolution, created not only a major chasm between the have’s and have not’s, but now face the most daunting challenge of their lives: Retirement and/or homelessness.

3 Comments

  1. It's a shame that Ronald Regan systematically decimated public housing during his presidency. That's when we began seeing homeless people on the streets in American. Governments at all levels have been trying to find solutions since. In my opinion, big warehouses where people sleep on mats on the floor doesn't do the job. Now, thanks to the Great Recession, money is "too tight" to build much public housing.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  2. There are enormous differences between the economic realities of boomers and the generation before them. While some may be guilty of overconsumption – having been conditioned from birth to do so.

    During my grandparents and even my parents working careers they had full benefits, REAL retirements, worked for one company their entire careers and earned more than they had to have to live on.

    That all changed in the mid-1990s when Corporations reneged on the benefits and pensions they had promised IN WRITING and gutted their pension plans with then-illegal conversions to cash pensions (401Ks).

    Buying power has declined since the 1970s and pay has been capped or reduced since about 1995. Add to that the decline in the value of the dollar and is it any wonder boomers do not have the savings their parents had?

    The way the dollar is dropping and will continue to drop will make how much money they have saved a moot point anyway. Since I don't know your policy on links in comments, search on "The US Dollar

    and Its Loss in Foreign Exchange Value" and click on the Gold-Eagle link for a graph and stats showing the Thirty-three Year Decline.

    The reality is our economy is far worse than the media is letting on and it is going to get much worse. There is a solution IF enough people wise up – but I am not holding my breath. More details on what that solution is in the post linked to this comment.

  3. It would be helpful if employers who are boomers would give more breaks to older employees who still want to work, have years of experience and a hard work ethic, and who are being replaced for lesser-priced junior executives.

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