The Castaway Elders: Living Alone and Poor

Mar. 12, 2014 / By

New America Media, Profile, Viji Sundaram

Photo: Brenda Washington in her tiny room, its shared bathroom down the hall. (Paul Dunn/Central City Extra) Click to see the entire Special Report, “Old and Poor in Tech City.”

SAN FRANCISCO – Somehow, the dozen or so hats piled atop Brenda Washington’s wardrobe and those hanging from hooks on her apartment walls initially draw a visitor’s gaze away from all the other items that clutter her 8 x 10-foot room.

Hats, some of them rather fancy, are the last things you’d expect to see in such profusion in a room where someone clearly lives in dire straits. Washington’s closet is crammed with clothes. “I paid a lot for some of them, like my London Fog,” she says of a coat. “I dress for success. Is there anything wrong with that?”

But signs of better times are few for Washington, 64, who says she hates living alone in a Central City single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel room.

Her room is on the third floor of the Raman Hotel, an 80-unit building, with shared hallway bathrooms.

Senior Poverty Increasingly Common

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