More than half of Los Angeles County residents aged 65 and older don't have enough income to meet their basic needs, according to a study presented on April 17 to the county's Board of Supervisors.
While only 9 percent are considered poor by federal poverty guidelines—with annual individual incomes below $10,830—six times as many are struggling to make ends meet, but make too much to qualify for many public programs. The problem is even more pronounced among women.
"More and more [elderly women] are in the shelters, which I don't think anybody really intended to happen or realized was happening," Ruth Schwartz, executive director of the Shelter Partnership, told the board.
"But because they don't have the community support and they don't have [enough] income and their family ties may be fragile, they are homeless."
Blacks and Latinos are also disproportionately affected, according to the study by the Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging, which concluded that 75 percent of both black and Latino elderly are "economically insecure," though they may receive Social Security or disability payments.
Based on 2010 U.S. Census estimates, the study forecasts that by 2030, 18 percent of Los Angeles County's population will be 65 years old or older.
Seniors can find it difficult to access help in what the study called a maze of 90 senior programs in more than 49 county departments and the state budget crisis has also cut funding for such programs.
Affordable housing and transportation were identified as some of the biggest problems and preventing elder abuse was also cited as a critical need.
Goals of the plan developed by the agency include:
- collaboration between city and county departments to provide services;
- education and outreach programs; and
- protective services for seniors and the disabled to prevent abuse and fraud.
The board approved the plan for submission to the California Department of Aging for its review.