Over the Threshold

America’s Unhoused Older Adults

Did you know there’s not a single county in the U.S. where people can afford a 2-bedroom apartment on minimum wage?

For older adults on fixed incomes and with complex medical issues, this is especially challenging. In this four-part series, published in spring 2024, Caregiving Magazine and Chicago Health Magazine delve into this issue with the support of The Gerontological Society of America, The Journalists Network on Generations, and The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Who has the answers, and how are they being implemented? Read on for a glimpse at some of the people working on this issue, and hear directly from some of the people living on Chicago’s streets.

Part 1: America’s Unhoused Older Adults

Older adults face an increased risk for homelessness across the U.S. As many people search for solutions, they’re also asking themselves what it means as a society when we can’t care for our most vulnerable.

Part 2: Women and Homelessness

Women and homelessness. Photo of a purse inside a cart in front of a tent.

Women now comprise a larger portion of unhoused Americans — and their role as caregivers plays a part in that risk. In fact, unhoused women today make up 38% of the homeless population, up from 5% in 1980. The population overall is growing older, too.

Part 3: Street Medicine

A red tarp covers a gray tent that has been set up under an overpass. Orange cones and a bike stand outside of the tent.

More coordinated medical efforts than ever are treating people outside of traditional healthcare settings — California alone has at least 25 street medicine teams — and they’re reaching a growing population of people who often mistrust traditional healthcare settings, due to discrimination or mistreatment.

Part 4: Creating Solutions

Scott Anthony Franklin stands outside a blue and gray tent. He's wearing a black-and-white checkered shirt, a black hat, and khaki pants.

For many people, homelessness involves a lack of affordable housing but also complex health issues. Here’s how access to housing and medical care is making communities healthier.