The Generation 50+ Group is composed of people who are over 50, have a history of homelessness, and who are low-income. The 50+ Generation Group is led by its members, who set the agenda, choose programs, and serve as important links for one another to housing, healthcare services, community-building, and support. 50+ members are community leaders actively trying to access mainstream life, and they lead by example to empower others around them to do the same.
The origin of the Generation 50+ Group began in 2006, when Open Access Connections hosted a series of listening sessions for participants over age 50. Fifteen people attended the session – all of whom were struggling with day-to-day survival issues. Participants had an optimistic worldview despite their many hardships and had a community orientation rather than an individualistic orientation. They believed they have something to teach others but didn’t have forums to pass on their expertise or knowledge. They were basically invisible. Participants were excited to be together and asked Open Access to continue to organize group meetings.
A majority of the original fifteen listening session participants continued to attend monthly meetings and new members have now joined them. The roster is now 80 people with 30 members regularly monthly meetings. The group has worked on the following issues.
- Advocating for affordable housing, including issues in tenants’ rights, public housing, and raising awareness of Transitional and Supportive Housing issues.
- Advocating for more resources to assist older adults who are applying for Social Security Disability benefits and more resources to deal with the backlog of cases in the system.
- Opposing the Voter ID constitutional amendment in 2012.
- Coordinating non-partisan voter campaigns. Most recently, the group registered and pledged 1,097 homeless and low-income Minnesotans to vote, as well as completing 120 volunteer shifts of GOTV door knocking and phone canvassing.
- Working with the Raise the Wage campaign to increase the Minnesotan minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016
- Promoting and advocating for the federal Lifeline program, which provides free limited minute cell phones for low-income people.
The Group is currently working on coalition efforts to increase affordable housing funding and felon voting rights restoration.
The group is open to any low-income person over 50. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm, in conference room S-330 of the Griggs Midway Building located at 1821 University Ave W, St. Paul MN 55104
“I have been a member of the group for 7 months. Membership has helped me accomplish many tasks that improved my including obtaining a shoe voucher, finding insurance, visiting a dentist, getting a birth certificate, and regularly meeting with mental health professionals. I feel like I am on a roll in my life. Even my son mentioned how well I have things together. I have been able to accomplish so much in a very short period of time, and it is all because of the information and assistance that I have received from members of the 50+ Generation Group.” – Member Testimonial
“I tell everyone about the 50+ group and how savvy they are about anything to do with people who are homeless, benefit programs, and unemployment.” – Agency Partner Testimonial
“We discuss issues of importance to older adults. We talk about all the injustice, prejudice, and intolerance that we face as older adults daily, such as homelessness, inadequate healthcare, and unemployment.” -Participant Testimonial.
We are expanding our base to make sure the concerns of older low-income adults are heard and addressed.