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Seniors in the Valley struggle to find housing

Posted at 7:27 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 22:27:22-04

Affordable housing is becoming even more difficult to find here in the Valley, especially for seniors.

Some area shelters told ABC15 this is a major problem, and they get dozens of calls from seniors every week.

“Police brought me to this area, and I’ve been staying here ever since,” said a newly homeless 75-year-old named Patty.

She went from living in a mobile home to living in her van for months. Patty said she never thought this would be her situation, but when the landlords of her mobile home decided to sell, she couldn’t afford the cost of rent.

“I wound up sleeping in my car for a week, and then I stayed in my van for a few months,” said Patty.

Once an administrative assistant but now retired, like many seniors Patty relies on social security for funds.

She knows she isn't alone.

“I feel like she should still be able to continue and not have to struggle so much,” said Liliha Couch-Dahlby.

Couch-Dahlby has watched the current housing costs and demand impact her family, her daughter in her early 20's, and now her former neighbor Mary Barry.

She told ABC15 Barry was forced out of her Chandler apartment recently after a rent increase.

“You’re left at 60-70 years old trying to survive on your social security and nobody with everyday social security can afford to get a place,” said Liliha Couch-Dahlby.

For now, Barry is staying in a motel until she can find a home or an apartment. She thinks she could afford a new place, but it’s a race to even apply.

Barry has found the search even harder with her 9-5 p.m. job she’s trying to maintain.

“25% of Maricopa County is over the age of 64 and 30% of them are at risk for becoming homeless,” said Executive Director of the Justa Center, Wendy Johnson.

Johnson said Patty is the perfect example of what they're seeing.

She said bigger steps need to be taken but a neighbor or loved one can help by just watching and getting a senior connected to services.

“We think homeless prevention at any cost is much more affordable to our community than homeless seniors,” said Johnson.

Johnson told ABC15 the center is working to open a Senior Solutions Center in Glendale in the next few months.

There they hope to meet people and help before they become homeless.

The center is available to offer aid to struggling seniors. Anyone needing help can reach out.