Homelessness among older people in Montana is on the rise, driven by inflation and housing crunch

KAISER HEALTH NEWS

COLUMBIA FALLS — On a recent rainy afternoon in this small town just outside Glacier National Park, Lisa Beaty and Kim Hilton were preparing to sell most of their belongings before moving out of their three-bedroom, two-bathroom rental home.

Hilton, who was recovering from a broken leg, watched from his recliner as friends and family sorted through old hunting gear, jewelry, furniture, and clothes. “The only thing that’s not for sale is the house — everything else has to go,” Hilton, 68, said as he checked his blood sugar.

Hilton has Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues that have left him disabled and unable to work for years. For income, he relies on federal disability benefits. Because of a shoulder injury and fibromyalgia, 64-year-old Beaty — Hilton’s partner of seven years — does, too. Combined, their income is roughly $1,500 a month.

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That’s no longer enough, though. Investors bought their house this year and raised the rent from $1,000, including utilities, to $1,800, plus the cost of utilities.

“They’re not evicting me — on a fixed income, I can’t do it,” Beaty said

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