Aging on the streets may reach epidemic proportions

Aging on the streets may reach epidemic proportions

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

With the serious shortage of low income housing in the United States, and more than 10,000 people turning 65 every day nationwide, aging on the streets is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions. 

Mark Stone, an elderly homeless man who lives in his van, collects disability and the benefits didn't kick in overnight. 

"I had a job and I was working just like everybody else and I got sick. It got to a point where I couldn't work and I had to quit my job. I lost everything and in eight months I ended up getting my disability. I'm looking at everyone else to see how they're living and how things are going for them. We've got a lot of people who are on disability and what's happening is they are still living in poverty," Stone said. 

He uses Open Door, a non profit aid for homeless people. He uses their shower and water. 

The national average for a modest apartment is equal to 113 percent of the social security benefits for a single adult. 

Chad Wheeler, the program's director, says elderly men and women represent a big chunk of people the program helps. 

 "We provide permanent supportive housing. It's designed for long term housing with supportive services.  There are many people in our program who are elderly," Wheeler said. 

Wheeler says some pay 30 percent of their income towards rent and the program subsidizes the rest of the cost to help them stay in housing. 

"There are more people ending up homeless for the first time after they are sixty years old and that is something that nobody wants to see," Wheeler said.

Wheeler said while Lubbock is increasing its housing, it's not necessarily suited for elderly people to afford on fixed incomes, whether it's disability or social security. 

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