Excerpt from: NPR (click for full article)
Dennis Culhane, social policy professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says individuals like Hearne are increasingly common.
"We're looking at a group of people who are sort of prematurely reaching old age," says Culhane, who's done extensive research on demographics and homelessness.
He says the growth in the aging homeless population is due largely to one group — younger baby boomers — those born between 1955 and 1965. He notes that they came of age in the late '70s and '80s, amid back-to-back recessions and a crack cocaine epidemic. Culhane says individuals in this age group are almost twice as likely as those in other age groups to be homeless.
"These are folks who have been living on the margins, in and out of jail, in and out of shelters, in and out of treatment programs for the last thirty, thirty five years," he says.
Culhane says people are just coming to grips with what that means. A few communities have started to build special housing for the elderly homeless. Baltimore and other cities are also trying to get those most likely to die on the streets into permanent supportive housing. But funds are limited.