Justa Center exists to provide essential services that support seniors, age 55 and older, who are homeless in the metro Phoenix region. Services are grounded in a person-centered culture to support human dignity and the ethics of personal healing and self-determination. Currently, the nation’s first and only day resource center exclusively serving the growing number of homeless seniors living in shelters, on the streets, as well as providing wrap-around supportive services to support members returned to housing remain in housing.
Since 2006, Justa Center has strived to build strong trusting relationships, helping to identify goals for ending homelessness, and empower individuals to live in self-reliant way in the community. A core value lived out every day at Justa Center is to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Therefore, individuals served at the Center are called members, not clients, patients, or recipients.
1 in 5 U.S. Residents will be of retirement age by 2030 In the United States, ten thousand (10,000) baby boomers turn 65 every day until 2030. Seniors will number an estimated 92 million by 2060.
Seniors entering into homeless is a growing world-wide crisis. Over 13% of current seniors live below the poverty line. In some regions, seniors comprise more than 10% of the homeless population. The number of homeless seniors is expected to increase annually until it peaks in 2060.
Seniors experience homelessness for a variety of reasons, including:
- the lack of income to pay for housing (low government assistance, insufficient retirement income, current and historic low wages coupled with debt and medical expenses)
- the shortage of affordable and secure housing
- deteriorating physical and mental health
- a relationship breakdown and/or suffering from violence and abuse
- death of a spouse
- social isolation
- or a lack of awareness of available benefits and services.
Center Programs and Services:
Day-Center members move through the various services provided based on individual needs organized around six major areas.
- Intake Process identifies needs, personal plan development, and identity documentation.
- Resource Development including income from work, social security, disability, veterans’ benefits, or other sources that will sustain independent or community living.
- Housing Development to locate the best affordable housing setting based on needs and resources.
- Nursing and Medical Support Services providing first-aid, wellness checks, consultations, and referrals to assist in navigating the complex healthcare systems.
- Services Coordination support to overcome barriers which might be discovered in the relational Justa Center process. On-site providers from Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, AZ State, and a pro-bono attorney available for members.
- On-site Resources such as daily mid-morning meal supplied by Meals on Wheels and community groups. Rental lockers, emergency clothing, showers and laundry, computer and telephone access, and more.
Extended Care for members achieving housing are supported
- Move-In support including transportation, starter kits for kitchen, bath, bedroom and personal care as well access to donated furniture to make the new location a home.
- Wellness Visits conducted weekly by Justa Ambassadors for members in housing to deliver food-bags along with limited household items not available with food stamps. These provide assessment and ongoing support that can include landlord mediation, transportation and support for medical procedures, and connecting members to available services to assist them to remain in housing while aging in place.
- Transition Support for members who are transitioning from independent living to managed care, when needed.
The Day-Center is open daily to homeless members seven days per week, closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. From 2009 through 2018, Justa Center has served
- 5,465 Homeless Seniors
- 24% Veterans
- 28% Women
In 2014, the Extended Care Program started to address the challenges that caused members to lose housing within the first year of placement. As of 2018, 76% of members placed in housing are retaining housing for greater than one year, and of those less than 2% are losing housing after five years.
2009-2014 – 23% remained in housing for greater than 1 year
2015-2018 – 76% remained in housing for greater than 1 year
Last year, the rising demand for services was
- 723 New members
- 53% - experiencing homelessness for the first time
- 6% Members returning after an absence greater than 12 months (causes include moving back to Phoenix, losing local housing, release after incarceration, extended hospitalization, or completing a residency program for addiction and/or mental health)
- 29% returned to housing
Historically, only 25% of Justa Center members were aged 63 or older (at time of intake) with access to endowments such as Social Security and Medicare. In 2018, that increased by to 31%; and to-date in 2019, it is 36% of the new members. While this increases individual resources, the lack of available housing for fixed income and low-income members is declining so members are remaining homeless for longer periods.