2 Collier County organizations work to help vulnerable people find housing

Published: August 24, 2022 6:17 PM EDT
Updated: August 25, 2022 5:07 AM EDT

As rent prices skyrocket, two organizations are helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community find a home.

The Hunger and Homeless Coalition of Collier County said in the first quarter of this year, there were 65 seniors without a home, and that number is growing.

“We’ve had maybe 10 to 12 a year. And of course, with what’s going on with housing now, it’s increasing dramatically,” said Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, CEO of the Naples Senior Center.

Faffer said in the last two years, the number of homeless seniors has spiked. She believes the rapid increase in the price of housing and inflation are too much for people on a fixed income.

“Often they become quite depressed. They have cognitive issues,” said Faffer.

The organization has been helping by providing support groups, counseling, signing them up for assistance programs, and connecting them with resources.

They have also partnered up with other agencies in the community to help the seniors find housing.

“There’s nowhere for them to go. There’s no housing available, even in these assisted living communities and memory care units. There’s a waiting list,” said Kelsey Couture, programs administrator at the Campbell Lodge shelter.

At St. Matthews House, they’ve also seen a rise in the last couple of years. Their oldest person is 96 years old.

Couture said the first thing they do when a senior joins the shelter is to sign them up for their government benefits since they can’t work, which is a lengthy process.

If they already have social security income, Medicaid, or medicare, they try to find an assisted living facility which often times have a waitlist, so they end up spending a year or more at the shelter.

“That can be really hard for them specifically, but also for us because we’re trying to be there to support them and lead them and guide them. So it’s heartbreaking,” Couture said.

WINK News asked both organizations what might make life better for seniors in Collier County. Both answered more housing that’s affordable. Until then, they’ll continue to help as best as they can.