In the United States, a looming crisis threatens the well-being of the elderly population, particularly senior citizens. Thousands of seniors, if not provided with necessary assistance and care, could find themselves without a place to call home. The problem is exacerbated by the aging Baby Boomer population, whose numbers have grown significantly over the years. As a result, the number of homeless seniors in the US has surged by nearly 70% between 2007 and 2017, painting a bleak picture of their future. Nick Saifan, the CEO of Vendaval Corp, a veteran-friendly company, sheds light on the grim reality: “Baby Boomers face a rough future. Many of us are in failing health and forced to live on Social Security. Housing costs have exploded. That’s left many, who expected a comfortable retirement, facing foreclosures, evictions and life on the streets.”
According to research, the number of homeless seniors is projected to significantly increase in major cities such as New York City and Boston by 2030. In New York City, the figures are expected to more than double from 2,600 to 6,300, while in Boston, they are projected to jump from 570 to 1,560 over the next decade. Los Angeles, too, faces a startling increase, with the number of homeless seniors predicted to rise to a staggering 30,000 by 2030.
A comfortable and secure retirement, once a realistic expectation, is now becoming an elusive dream for many seniors and veterans. The rising cost of living, coupled with health issues that come with aging, makes it challenging for seniors to sustain their livelihoods without working well beyond the traditional retirement age. Saifan highlights the predicament: “Health and aging issues make it difficult for seniors to obtain jobs. In addition, many companies shy away from older employees. The stress that comes from aging, as well as the death of spouses and friends, adds to the challenges many seniors now face.”
California, with its rapidly growing senior population, is facing a unique set of challenges. By 2030, the older-than-65 sector is expected to increase by 4 million people, necessitating suitable housing options. Saifan emphasizes that the housing for seniors has become increasingly unsuitable or untenable as they age. While some seniors opt to age in place, holding on to their single-family residences, this is not always feasible, especially for those who need additional assistance and those who are renters. Seniors on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to rent increases, a problem exacerbated by inadequate federal laws to protect them from arbitrary hikes.
The crisis isn’t limited to California; it’s a nationwide issue. Yet, the severity of the problem is particularly pronounced in California. Finding viable solutions is a complex challenge, but experts and advocates like Nick Saifan propose a comprehensive approach. Saifan believes that local governments can play a crucial role by reducing bureaucratic obstacles faced by developers. Fewer government restrictions would enable qualified builders to modify old homes for seniors, construct affordable housing, and establish group home settings for the aging population. He emphasizes the pivotal role of government involvement: “A strong partnership among communities, advocates, home builders and government agencies may be the best way to create a better future.”
According to Saifan, there are various options that communities and governments can consider to alleviate the housing crisis for seniors. Fixed rent controls for seniors, innovative housing solutions such as utilizing shipping containers for housing, and utilizing vacant lands and buildings controlled by state and local governments are some potential strategies. Saifan, drawing on his extensive experience, asserts that a caring and involved community is vital for the success of any housing program aimed at helping seniors. He underscores the importance of collaboration and calls upon communities, senior advocates, and local governments to work together to ensure that aging can be a blessing rather than a curse.
However, Saifan acknowledges that the government alone cannot address all the challenges. He advocates for more involvement from private entities to lead initiatives on behalf of seniors, stressing the need to shift the focus from individual interests to a collective responsibility to help seniors enjoy their golden years.
Nick Saifan, having served in the U.S. military for 24 years and understanding the challenges of transitioning from military to civilian life, brings a unique perspective to this crisis. As the CEO of Vendaval Corporation, he’s devoted to channeling his business acumen to address the housing crisis and contribute to the community’s welfare. Through Vendaval, Saifan envisions a sustainable business structure that facilitates community-based programs to assist those in need. The central tenet of his vision is self-sufficient affordable housing in mixed-use developments, coupled with on-site programs encompassing various aspects of life, from education to job placement. His model is not just about housing but about creating holistic, supportive communities that uplift and empower seniors and veterans alike.
The looming crisis of senior homelessness is a pressing issue that demands urgent attention and innovative solutions. Nick Saifan’s vision, experience, and commitment provide a beacon of hope in addressing this crisis. By advocating for comprehensive, collaborative approaches and emphasizing community involvement, Saifan sets a path towards a brighter future, ensuring that our seniors can age with dignity and security. The time is now to rally together as a community and make a difference, one that will resonate for generations to come.