WI23-14: Pathways Into and Out of Homelessness: The Role of Frontline Workers to Promote Social Security Benefits Uptake and Housing Security for Adults 50 and Older Living in the Boston Area



Age-related health and financial changes can threaten an older adult’s housing security and result in homelessness. Becoming unhoused is especially dangerous for older adults since it impacts both their mental and physical health and increases mortality risk. Yet, later-life homelessness is increasingly common. This mixed methods study aims to: (1) identify contributors to later-life housing instability; (2) identify the role of benefits uptake in the instability or in the restabilization process; and (3) identify service needs specific to older people experiencing homelessness. This research will improve our understanding of older adults who experience homelessness, especially those who become homeless for the first time at an advanced age. We will examine their unique attributes, needs, and the barriers and facilitators they experience to accessing resources. Researchers will begin this work by assessing a decade of trends of older adult housing instability across the state of Massachusetts using novel set of administrative data. Researchers will then interview frontline service providers who support diverse older Boston residents experiencing housing instability to surface practitioner perceptions. Findings will spotlight opportunities to increase older adult benefits uptake and improve housing security, either before or after homelessness. The project will also explore whether clients with certain demographic or need profiles rely on specific types of support to access benefits and stabilize their housing.


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