Soaring Housing Costs Push More Seniors into Shelters, Doctors Warn,Toronto doctors

Toronto doctors are sounding the alarm on a disturbing trend: a rise in the number of older adults experiencing homelessness. A new report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) by a group of Toronto physicians highlights the critical issue of seniors being forced into shelters due to the escalating housing crisis.

The report underscores the urgent need for collaboration between public health, housing authorities, and community organizations. Seniors facing homelessness often have complex health needs due to aging, which shelters are simply not equipped to handle.

“The combination of rising housing costs and a lack of affordable options is pushing more and more vulnerable seniors into homelessness,” says Dr. Alston, a lead author of the report. “This is a recipe for disaster, as shelters are not designed to meet the specific medical and social needs of older adults.”

While the overall number of shelter users in Canada has decreased since 2005, the report reveals a concerning rise in the proportion of seniors within that population. In 2005, only 13.5% of shelter users were over 50. Experts and shelter workers in Toronto confirm this trend, reporting a growing number of seniors seeking refuge in shelters.

Dr. Alston attributes this trend, in part, to the economic challenges faced by older adults. “A health crisis or unexpected expense can have a devastating impact on a senior’s ability to afford housing,” he explains. “The current housing affordability crisis makes it nearly impossible to recover from such setbacks.”

The report calls for immediate action from policymakers and community organizations. Increased collaboration is essential to develop and implement solutions that address the specific needs of homeless seniors. This could involve creating safe and accessible housing options with appropriate medical support, as well as providing financial assistance programs targeted towards older adults.

The rising number of seniors in shelters is a stark illustration of the human cost of the housing crisis. Urgent action is needed to ensure that Canada’s most vulnerable citizens have access to safe and affordable housing.


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