Houston Seniors Struggle With Poor Access to Transit

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Naomi Hirsh is a 76-year-old woman living in Houston, Texas -- and, according to a report from Transportation for America, she is part of the sixty-eight percent of elderly city residents whom are underserved when it comes to public transit.

Naomi has tried many different ways to navigate car-dependent Houston. Her situation is complicated by ongoing balance issues caused by a serious car accident in 2006, and she can’t leave her apartment without help. She said there are some local organizations that help -- but her home is in the wrong part of town.  “Some of the organizations ... have volunteers in various areas and the first thing they ask you is what is your zip code? Well, my zip code is too far out for any of them to come.”

David Goldberg with Transportation for America said Naomi’s case is not unique -- and he expects to see the problem worsening in the coming years. “What’s happening is that we have the largest generation in the history of the country, the baby boom generation, who also has the longest life expectancy of any previous generation," he said. "And they will have diminished capacity for driving an automobile."

Rafael Ayuso, a spokesman with AARP Texas, said this issue affects hundreds of thousands of Houston residents. “What has happened here is that about four out of every five  seniors aged 65 plus, is car-dependent. So we have a perfect storm brewing here of increasing numbers of baby boomers (with) mobility options (that) are very severely limited.”

For the full story, listen to the radio version at KUHF. You can read more TN coverage about transportation and the elderly here.