For a startling number of seniors in the United States, aging is marked by intensified physical deprivation, insecurity, isolation and humiliation. Approximately 9 million Americans live below the poverty level, and of this group, seniors constitute nine percent.
California, the Golden State, whose economy accounts for 17 percent of the total national GDP and, were it an independent country, would economically outpace all but nine countries, leads the nation with the most elders living in poverty. Close to 400,000 Californians 65 and older live in poverty, the majority of whom are women and people of color. Within California, the city of Oakland in Alameda County has the largest population of impoverished seniors in the state. According to the 2000 census, 41,788 of Oakland’s 420,000 population are 65 years or older.
Of these seniors, one in eight currently lives at or below the poverty line, and many more are at risk of facing severe hunger and homelessness.