As more families work to make ends meet, a startling number of those who are newly homeless are baby boomers.
Nationwide, the number of baby boomers who are homeless is expected to rise to 225,000 in the next four years, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania. It's a large jump from 170,000 who found themselves homeless in 2017.
“I came [to the Rescue Mission] with nothing. I basically had two changes of clothes and a backpack,” said Jack Greenwood, a man experiencing homelessness in Denver. “I remember walking in that door over there. It was late March and cold, and I didn’t know what to expect. I had been to programs before, but I didn’t know what this one would be like, and I sat down and just this feeling just came over me of wow I did the right thing.”
In 2016, Greenwood sold his house in Sacramento after working decades as an accountant making a six-figure salary, but alcoholism drove him to a motel, where he spent nearly four years in a motel drinking each day.
“You never want to think it’s going to happen to you because you want to think you’re smart enough, and you’ve got an education. You know, you’ve had a six-figure salary, but it sneaks up on you,” he said.
With record inflation, gas prices, and rent costs, the financial pinch is driving more established people to a place of need. In June, the median rent price on Redfin rose above $2,000 per month for the first time ever.
“We have more regulars in that boomer, mid-50’s age group on up than we previously had,” said Stephen Hinkel, spokesperson for the Denver Rescue Mission. “I think people are really feeling the pinch financially and there’s definitely an older age group that is experiencing homelessness that previously wasn’t.”
“You just have to be vulnerable, open, and willing and you can make it happen,” said Greenwood. “And maybe that will make me better in the next version of myself.”