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Growing Number of Ethnic Elders in Financial Crisis

Growing Number of Ethnic Elders in Financial Crisis
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Written by Paul Kleyman of New America Media

In a dismal week when the most positive economic news for the United States was Friday’s federal data showing anemic employment gains, the plight of ethnic elders looks “even worse than we thought it would be,” according to Henoch Derbew, coauthor of a new report, “The Economic Crisis Facing Seniors of Color.

“While the recession has affected all American, the effects have been truly devastating for Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans hoping to retire with some dignity,” said Preeti Vissa, director of community reinvestment at the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley, Calif., which released the study Friday.

At a time when Congress and the president are considering cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, she said the report shows that federal and state governments need to take steps to protect lower-income seniors and “to immediately take off the table any proposal that will plunge our most vulnerable elders into poverty.”

Key Findings

Among the report’s findings are that:

Even before the 2008 recession, a key study found that 91% of African American and Latino seniors are financially vulnerable, while overall figures showing lower poverty levels for older Asian Americans “mask hidden pockets of poverty,” such as among Hmong, Korean or Cambodian seniors;

The Federal Poverty Line fails to consider factors, such as the high costs of health care, housing and transportation for seniors on fixed incomes;

Seniors of color have become increasingly reliant on Social Security as they have tapped out their modest savings and employer-based pensions have dwindled in the past 30 years to just over one-in-three African Americans and slightly more than one in five Latino workers.

• The foreclosure crisis has disproportionately affected black and Latino families, draining over $213 billion in wealth from these communities—almost half of the losses to subprime borrowers nationally.

The disproportionately high levels of poverty and near poverty among ethnic seniors will be of growing concern nationally, because they will double by mid-century to four in ten seniors. In the Golden States alone, according to the report, “by roughly 2025, the majority of California’s seniors will be people of color.”

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Photo from Bob Jagendorf via flickr creative commons

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5:17PM PDT on Aug 19, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:52PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

It is all races that are hurting, seniors are being shafted everyday, we deserve to have a good life also. It is not just one or two races , it is all seniors.

9:44AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

While it is a sad commentary on this country that certain Ethnic elders are struggling, many of us are tired of this racist rhetoric implying that they are the only ones who deserve assistance. Apart from the rich who have been amply rewarded by RePUBICan lawmakers and their colleague who currently lives (rent-free, no doubt) in the White House, everyone is suffering the impact of the financial meltdown exacerbated by successive Government policies that favor the haves amongst us.

1:55AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

All elderly are "going without". In my assisted living in rural Northern Minnesota ladies make sandwiches of half their meat and their slice of bread. They claim thats all they 'care for' for supper.They accept a carton of milk then give it to a friend "who likes milk".Our facility has 37 apartments --maybe 50 residents.They serve three meals a day (at $4.00 each, payable with your next months rent ) Very few eat three meals a day in the dining room. Our prevailing ethnic group is from FINLAND so we are about as white as we can get. the problems are universal.Social security checks haven't seen a cost of living raise in several years altho the cost of EVERYTHING ELSE HAS. Medicare payments come out of Social Security checks before we see them,and many of us have supplimental insurance payments to cover the 20% of medical bills that SocialSecurity doesn't pay. Eldery people have ,for the most part ,always tried to be responsible people.We've worked, raised families and saved.Unfortunately,what Grandma has left to take care of HERSELF these days isn't really enough.And clinging to all the dignity she can gather,she would RATHER you NOT KNOW about it! BUT she's HUNGRY.

12:39AM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

It's not only African Americans or latinos, European American seniors are also feeling the pinch because of politicians mistakes and greed.

7:21AM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

I don't understand why they only pointed out the ethnic groups, a lot of us elderly people are also suffering.
They told us there would be no raise in our checks for the past two years because there was no cost of living increase. Where do they live? I would love to see these people try to survive on my disability check of $681. a month. It is definitely a struggle, and getting used to going to bed hungry at times.
You see these adds for starving people in other countries, but you need to start looking at your own people in your country and help them first. I'm not just talking about the elderly, I know that there are children and whole families going hungry now because of unemployment.
Shame on the United States.

2:17PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

this society is falling apart- only the rich will survive

12:54PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

No surprise here.

12:40PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

There are some things that still need to be done--like retrofitting old buildings for energy efficiency, installing solar panels for sustainable energy production, babysitting children too young for school whose parents really need to juggle three half time jobs to try to cover the costs of housing and food.

11:39AM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

@ Linda T “When will we get it right?” We won’t. We now have no choice but to face the consequences of overpopulation that we have been refusing to recognize. @ Carol B---“Our poorest cannot be left out any longer” They have no problem leaving them out in third world countries. If you think that the US is not nearly a third world country now, get a check list. Strong middle class ? Wealth distribution ? Employment possibilities ? Responsive representative government ? Skewed income distribution ? Spending on military ? Use of torture ? Environmental responsibility ?

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