Homeless Seniors - A Growing Crisis

Where would you turn if retirement didn't work out as planned?

Since 2006, the answer is Justa Center, the nation's first and currently, the only, day-center exclusively serving the growing population of homeless seniors age 55 and older in the metro Phoenix region.

The increase in senior homelessness is a crisis. The number of new members is increasing exponentially. In the two-year period from 2015 to 2017 membership increased by 68%. From 2017 through the first five months of 2019, we have seen an additional 60% increase of members. Current estimates reflect that Justa Center will serve over 1,200 seniors seeking help by year-end. 

The Crisis is Growing

Data and graph courtesy of the Maricopa Association of Governments. www.AZMag.gov

The January Maricopa County Point-in-Time count found a significant increase in unsheltered individuals.

This includes a dramatic increase of 98% of seniors who were/are unsheltered. Currently, over 50% of seniors entering homelessness are doing so for the first time in their adult lives.

In Maricopa County, an estimated 4,400 seniors are living in cars, behind dumpsters and on the sidewalks. A growing crisis for the community.

Day-Center Impact

Under the best conditions, aging is a challenge. Becoming homeless increases the risk of poor health, injury, victimization, and loss of cognitive health. Current studies find that shelter users 55 and over tend to have longer shelter stays compared to younger adults. 

More than a hot meal and day-shelter, the Center provides essential services including Housing Assistance, Identity Documentation, Nurses Clinic, Legal Aid, and representatives from DES and Social Security.  

The Nurses Clinic had nearly 2,000 visits in 2018, reducing the number of costly 
9-1-1 calls and emergency department visits significantly while helping members manage medicine, doctors visits and tests.

The State of Arizona recognizes the savings provided by Justa Center resulting in our status as an Arizona Qualified Charitable Organization. 

Extended Care at Home

A chronically homeless person, defined as someone who has been homeless at least 13 months, costs the taxpayer $35,578 per year. Due to the lack of affordable housing and limited income, Justa Center members are homeless for an average of 9-18 months - many much longer. 

This is reduced by at least 49.5% when members placed in supportive, subsidized, or independent living. 

In 2018, 288 Justa Center members returned to housing saving taxpayers an estimated $25 million in the first year of housing. 

The Extended Care Program supports the seniors with assistance, trusted advice, and support to remain in housing.