There is arguably plenty of promise for baby boomers who retire to Florida. The weather is warm, there is no state income tax, and hopefully, stress levels are low.
However, for some, retirement in Florida doesn't turn out as planned. In fact, The Wall Street Journal, First Coast News, and Daily Mail have recently reported on retired baby boomer Floridians who have slipped into homelessness due to the combination of a fixed income and rising costs.
Here's a look at both situations and an explanation of why this situation is becoming more common.
A 71-Year-Old Woman From Naples: Judy Schroeder was enjoying her retirement in Naples, Florida when unexpected circumstances hit along with the pandemic.
Suddenly, Schroeder's rent increased by $500 without warning, and she also lost her job. Because she could no longer afford her apartment, she began to look for something new in Naples.
Unfortunately, she found that reasonably priced apartments were nearly impossible to find, and she couch-surfed for as long as she possibly could. Once applications for low-income housing vouchers fell through, Schroeder could think of no solution other than seeking shelter in her car.
Thankfully, after spending so much time looking for housing that Schroeder called her efforts a "full-time job," she eventually found a place to live where she had to pay 30 percent of her Social Security income in rent, with the federal Section 8 subsidy contributing to the rest.
Schroeder knows that this situation means she is pretty much stuck where she is no matter what circumstances might arise. She told Daily Mail in September of 2023, in part:
"I'm not moving again. I can't even think of it. I'm going to be here until the good Lord wants me."
A Baby Boomer Living in His Car For Two Years In Jacksonville: Jim Paris is a senior who lives in Jacksonville. Although he once owned his own business, Paris fell on hard times and ended up working in a convenience store to make ends meet.
Unfortunately, he did not make enough money at the store to be able to afford rent in Florida and he ended up living in his car for two years. The process was so difficult on his mental health, and he ultimately ended up in the hospital.
While there, he met a social worker who changed his life by introducing him to the agency Changing Homelessness which eventually helped him find affordable housing.
Of the experience, Paris told First Coast News in July of 2023:
"I used to see homeless people and say 'Good God I could never be there.' But you know it wouldn't take much to make it happen. And then it happened."
Experts Cite a "Silver Tsunami" Due to Increased Homelessness Among Seniors: According to The Wall Street Journal reporting in September of 2023, HUD officials say that older adults are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, a shift that some are calling a "silver tsunami."
Specifically, data shows that the percentage of Miami-Dade's senior homeless population in 2022 was a whopping 31%.
Of this phenomenon, researcher Margot Kushel has said:
“It’s an entirely different population. These are people who worked their whole lives. They had typical lives ...”
Long Wait Lists For Low-Cost Senior Housing in Florida: Reporting in late September of 2023, Business Insider noted that a Wall Street Journal analysis indicated that Florida has long waiting lists for Medicaid senior housing. For every 100 people waiting, the state reportedly only had 25 units.