A growing number of Fredericton seniors have used homeless shelters in recent years, according to Fredericton Homeless Shelters’ executive director, Warren Maddox.

He estimates the numbers have likely grown 20 to 30 per cent after they first noticed a rise in 2021. And he predicts that the trend will be ongoing.

“Numbers will continue to rise. It’s not a matter of if — they will,” he said.

Maddox attributes the rising cost of living and a lack of suitable housing costs to pushing some older adults to the brink. He predicts the increase will continue for the next decade as Baby Boomers age.

Warning signs, fear

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Madeleine Gaudet, the board president of Stepping Stone Senior Centre, said she’s shocked by the rise, but that the warning signs were there.

“You would hear people saying, ‘Well the next thing you know, we’re going to have seniors who are going to be homeless.’ And here we are,” she said.

She hasn’t spoken to seniors facing homelessness, but said there are people worried about the rising price of housing — especially with fixed incomes.

“You hear the fear expressed that there are seniors who are not doing well financially in our community,” she said.

It’s not just in Fredericton. An article published in May in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported a national rise in people over 50 accessing shelters.

Need to speak out

Maddox said they’re not designed for the medical, mobility and cognitive needs that aging adults may have.

“It’s not a great environment for someone that’s in their mid 60s, on up into their 70s or 80s. It’s just not a great place to be,” he said.

He wants to see more housing options for older adults. Gaudet hopes this will be a wake-up call.

“We’ve all got to speak up and speak out about what we can do to address affordable housing, affordable food,” she said.

The Department of Social Development did not respond by deadline to an interview request.