by Bob Tedeschi
“OAKLAND, Calif. — The elderly man winced as two friends lifted him from his car, and he walked, as if on broken glass, along the curb of a dead end street in an East Oakland neighborhood. It took him several minutes to walk 15 yards, and when he sat again he needed still more time to regain his breath.
“His eyes were pressed shut, and as he waited for the pain and breathlessness to pass, his fingertips worked the skin of one knotted, ebony hand. Finally he lifted his head and, with the hint of a smile, said his name was Dwane Allen Foreman. ‘I’ve got a long story,’ he said.
“The short version is that Foreman is 68 and homeless, and has HIV, hepatitis C, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and, more recently, lung cancer, and he worries he will die on the street. If he does, he will be one of hundreds in the United States who do so every year, dying in the kind of squalor and emotional and physical suffering that is more commonly the hallmark of war zones and developing nations.
“Such cases are becoming more common, researchers said, as the homeless population ages. In the early 1990s, 11 percent of homeless adults were over 50. Now more than half are 50 or older.”
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