Best Life: Helping homeless seniors

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 6:12 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, FLA. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Loss of a spouse, loss of a house, loss of a job -- for thousands of baby boomers their golden years are not what they expected. In fact, we’re seeing a spike in the number of people over 65 who are homeless.

Even more shocking, a University of Pennsylvania study found senior homelessness will nearly triple from 40,000 to 106,000 in the next ten years. Advocates say much more low-income housing is needed. That’s why one woman is leading the way to help the elderly in her community.

“I do recall sleeping one night behind a dumpster,” said Linda Flores.

Flores lost her housekeeping job and her home after being hit by a semi.

“I lost everything,” she said.

Richard was an operations manager for 25 years until severe depression consumed him.

“I was addicted. I was depressed. I was stressed out,” he said.

Suzanna Clark’s husband died.

“I had a heart attack and a slight stroke,” said Clark.

Left with no place to go and no one to care for them until they met Isha Desselle, Founder & President of Turning Point Center.

“I knew I wanted to help elderly because they are the ones who’ve built this country,” said Desselle. “They are the ones who took care of us.”

Thirty-four years ago, she decided to change her life.

“I sold my home and everything that I had, put a down payment on this rundown apartment complex,” she said.

This 34-unit complex became the Turning Point Center. Seniors share an apartment, get healthy meals, free clothing, counseling, education, job training and help with getting ID cards like social security. Richard runs the kitchen and pantry.

“It’s huge that you find something that helps you be productive. Everybody has a job,” he said.

Steve grows fresh veggies for the residents, and Dan Tolleson oversees transportation.

“I drive and pick up and deliver donations,” said Tolleson.

“We look for people who want to change their life. Not a person who wants to just come and just sit here,” said Desselle.

Seniors can stay for days or even years, the goal is to let our elders know that someone cares for them.

“I wanted my life to have meaning -- that I did something. But the truth is the people, the residents who live here, they’re honestly the ones who make this happen.” said Desselle.

The Turning Point Center is a non-profit. It costs about $250,000 a year to run. They get most of their money through grants and donations. Experts believe more places like this will be needed soon. Especially since the latest information from the census shows that younger baby boomers, now in their 50′s and 60′s, don’t have pensions or 401K accounts and about half of both women and men ages 55 to 66 have no retirement savings.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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