Baby Boomer Homelessness Rates Are Skyrocketing & Many Millennials Feel No Sympathy For Them

There's lots to learn and plenty of blame to go around as boomers become victims of our economy, too.

woman kneeling to help homeless man Ground Picture / Shutterstock

For years, Baby Boomers, Millennials and now Gen Z'ers have been locking horns over who exactly is to blame for the ways our punishing economy is making a stable life all but impossible for younger generations.  Now, it seems the tables are beginning to turn, and millennials and Gen Z'ers aren't feeling all that sympathetic. 

Baby Boomer homelessness rates are skyrocketing, and many Millennials and Gen Z'ers feel like it's their comeuppance.

Boomers have enjoyed a level of financial comfort that is unprecedented in American history. But as more and more Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, age into retirement, that trend of prosperity is undergoing a shocking reversal.


Elderly Baby Boomers are the fastest-growing group among homeless people, a development not seen since the Great Depression.

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Several studies have shown that America's unhoused population has been trending older for years. A 2019 study led by University of Pennsylvania social policy professor Dennis Culhane found that in the early 1990s, just 11% of the country's homeless were over age 50. By 2003, that had shifted to 37%.


But now, those over 50, which includes Baby Boomers and the oldest Gen X'ers, who range from roughly 43 to 58 years old, make up more than half of homeless people, and Culhane thinks those over 60 probably make up the fastest-growing segment. 



“The fact that we are seeing elderly homelessness is something that we have not seen since the Great Depression," Culhane told the Wall Street Journal in September 2023. He also noted to PBS News Hour that homelessness over the age of 60 was always exceptionally rare in America — until now.

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The lingering impacts of the Great Recession, America's housing crisis, and inflation are fueling Baby Boomer homelessness. 

The 2008 Great Recession, also known as the Global Financial Crisis outside the U.S., greatly reduced, if not erased entirely, many Boomers' savings and retirement investments. Now, nearly half of the generation has no savings to speak of.

Inflation is to blame, too. The soaring prices on everything we've seen in recent years have eroded the benefits of programs like Social Security and Medicare, leaving senior citizens without savings and retirement benefits unable to keep up, just like the rest of us. And wage stagnation means the jobs they are able to get don't pay anywhere near a livable wage.

This has all combined with America's absurd housing market to create a disaster, not just because of high home prices, but because of soaring rents as well, especially as more and more rental properties are gobbled up by corporate landlords. 




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Many younger generations are feeling no sympathy for the boomers.

Homelessness is a harrowing experience for anyone of any age. The unhoused experience staggering rates of police harassment, are frequently victims of crime and get sicker more often than the rest of us, and that's all on top of having to live and sleep outdoors. But for those who are also elderly, these problems and their impacts are magnified. 

But given how punishing the economy has been for younger generations, and many boomers' total lack of empathy or willingness to listen to the simple mathematical realities of the economy, many millennials and Gen Z'ers are having trouble feeling anything but a kind of schadenfreude about the boomer homelessness situation.


"Baby boomers are becoming homeless," TikToker @straightouttasalem said in a video back in September, "and that's what spending decades as a 'pick-me' for capitalism will get you, and frankly, everyone else as well."



Millennial comedian and TikToker Graeson McGaha brought the situation into sharper focus, by offering homeless Boomers the same sneering, unempathetic advice so many of them have offered us younger generations during our unending economic struggles. 

"Wonder if they've tried pulling themselves up by their bootstraps," he mused. "Have they considered living within their means … [or getting] a side hustle or maybe a second job because, you know, avocado toast is expensive!" 


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These takes are either instantly relatable or inhumanly cruel — or maybe both — depending on your sensibilities. But these critics absolutely have a point. There is an extent to which boomers brought this on themselves.

Boomers have voted time and time again for politicians and policies that set the stage for the homelessness crisis.

As a bloc, boomers have spent their adult lives continually voting for everything that has created all our current crises, from rapacious tax cuts to economic reforms to trade policies that have hollowed out the American economy while enriching far-flung nations.


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The two forces basically shoving them out into homelessness, the 2008 financial crisis and our current housing crisis, can both, even if reductively, be explained as the only logical repercussions of the politicians and policies boomer voters have voted for time and time again.

From the idiotic fantasies of Reaganomics and the Nixon-era policies that enabled it; to Bill Clinton's disastrous Wall Street reform and repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that birthed our current housing economy; to George W. Bush's absurd tax cuts (while waging war, no less); and Boomers' backlash to Obama's attempts to temper all these disasters by voting for Donald Trump in 2016, they are, in the most literal sense, reaping what they've sown.


As McGaha so aptly put it in his TikTok, "This is the same generation who doesn't believe anything until it happens to them personally." That hubris and arrogance is now turning into a shocking and heartbreaking comeuppance. 

But that view also gives a pass to the rapacious politicians and their media collaborators who have spent decades lying through their teeth, leveraging fear and bigotry, and demonizing anyone who dared challenge their mendacity in order to convince boomers to keep voting for those policies.



We all bear responsibility for our choices, but that responsibility doesn't negate the fact that boomers voted for all this nonsense because they were lied to by leaders who promised them these policies would make not just them, but everyone, prosperous forevermore. It worked just long enough to dupe them while making the politicians and corporate class richer than ever. 


In the end, even amidst her frustration, @straightouttasalem put it best. While she's furious boomers have spent their lives voting for the very policies now pushing them onto the streets, in her view, that doesn't lessen the "heinous" depravity of the situation. "I understand karma," she said. "I still don't wanna see grandma standing on the corner begging for a dollar."

There is an election exactly one year from now. Here's hoping the boomers can learn what the rest of us have already had to learn the hard way, and here's hoping we can all join together next year to make the right choices. Our future depends on it, including, for the first time in a long time, the elderly boomers among us.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.