Senior citizens are a growing segment of Utah’s homeless — so lawmakers want to see how much of that may come from residents being forced to leave assisted living centers for such things as nonpayment or disruptive behavior.
The House Business Committee voted unanimously Friday to advance HB263 to the full House.
Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, the bill’s sponsor, said it will require assisted living centers to report to the state anytime they are forcing the release of residents, allowing an existing state ombudsman to interview them and track reasons — and help them to find a safe place to live, if possible.
She said she’d heard many anecdotal reports from constituents that rising costs at assisted living centers are forcing out residents who have no where to go, and she would like to collect data about how big the problem may be to help solve it.
The growing problem of homelessness among elderly residents appears to be significant — although there’s no direct link between that and ouster of people from senior living centers, said Matt Minkevith, executive director of The Road Home.
“We know that more people who are senior citizens are turning to us. Specifically last year, we had 1,074 individuals turning to our shelters. That is a 20 percent increase,” Minkevitch said.
“We know that many of those individuals turning to us in that age group are highly vulnerable, compromised by both physical health limitations and other health limitations.”
But, he said, “We do not know any correlation or causal links between discharge from health care facilities or assisted living facilities into our shelter.”
Still, Minkevitch supported the bill.
“We believe by having a greater understanding of how people in this age group are coming to us, we can work together in a more enlightened fashion to help avoid that.”