Over a year has gone by since Dan was bouncing between shelters and the street, but he remembers the stress all too vividly. He recalls, as if it were yesterday, the panicky feeling he would get when the sun began to creep towards the horizon. It was in those waning moments of daylight that the reality of his life hit him the hardest; he had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Complications that stemmed from a series of difficult years left him completely homeless, without a penny to his name.
That life is almost unrecognizable to Dan now. This past April, he celebrated his one year anniversary in his new home at the Curry Senior Center. Because of his incredible perseverance and the great work of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing, Dan has been thriving in his new home, regaining physical strength, reconnecting with family and friends, and enjoying the simple pleasures in life, among them a daily delivery by Meals on Wheels.
Nearly three quarters of Meals on Wheels clients live on less than $1,000 a month. Like Dan, many are formerly homeless or exist on the brink of homelessness. They are one medical bill or unexpected expense away from eviction, and they are seniors. For many, they have worked most of their lives and saved what they could. The only thing they did not prepare for was the skyrocketing cost of living in San Francisco; a trend that has ranked our city as the most expensive in the country.
For Meals on Wheels, our response to the urgent rise in senior poverty has been a top priority. We have worked with the Department of Aging & Adult Services to expedite home delivered meals for seniors, like Dan, who have been lucky enough to acquire stable housing. In the past year, we have invested in a 30% increase in emergency start meals. This means recently housed seniors will not have to choose between paying rent or paying for food.
We have launched our Adopt-a-Building program to match employees who work for companies like Zendesk, Twitter, Dolby, and Salesforce with seniors in the Tenderloin & SoMa. These volunteers deliver meals to nearly half of the 500 seniors who live in exceedingly crowded single-room occupancy hotels. This has proved to be a welcome relief for drivers struggling to serve these areas. It has also been eye-opening for a new generation of business leaders who come face to face with the reality of San Francisco’s poorest homebound seniors.
It is essential for Meals on Wheels to focus on programs that alleviate the growing social and economic isolation many seniors experience. For more information on how you can help, visit mowsf.org/aab.