PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Even though many senior citizens would like to enjoy the fruits of retirement, the rising cost of living in South Florida is causing many residents older than 60 to head back to work.
A few weeks ago, 92-year-old Mauro Salazar received a note that notified him that he was being let go as a light-duty security guard in Palm Beach County.
"I was doing security at Town Square Villas in Greenacres four nights a week, and then I was doing parking enforcement at Montecito two nights," Salazar said.
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Tough times typically don’t trouble him too much.
Salazar is a Korean War veteran who has seen a thing or two.
Decades later, he never dreamed that at his age that he'd be sitting at CareerSource Palm Beach County looking for work.
"I gotta work. I gotta pay my real estate taxes, my homeowners' insurance," Salazar said.
His security job was paying just enough to keep him in his family's home. It’s where he and his wife, Delores, raised their kids.
"I've been in the house since 1967," he said. "This is my home now, and I want to stay in it."
But Florida's skyrocketing insurance premiums have put him underwater.
"You can't believe how [much] it went up," Salazar said.
He's not the only retiree looking for work at CareerSource.
"I'm between a hard place and a rock," Ruby Gilbert said. "I am retired, but unfortunately due to the economic conditions and the housing conditions, we are forced at my age, 64, to enter back into the workforce."
She worked in corporate America for 45 years but retired when COVID-19 hit.
"My car stays parked. I can't go on vacations because of the gas [prices], and I am on a fixed income, so we can't travel," Gilbert said. "We can't do anything."
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She lives on $40,000 a year from a pension and Social Security.
Her month-to-month budget was already tight, but the recent rise in rent has deepened the problem.
"You got a whole set of elderlies that are in my price range," Gilbert said. "We do not qualify for anything, so we're forced to come out of retirement and supplement our income just to afford a place to live."
The whole situation is causing anxiety for many residents.
"I'm angry with the way our seniors are being treated," Gilbert said.
She's not alone.
The numbers show that 1,661 people ages 60 and over in Palm Beach County lined up looking for work in the last month.
"They went into retirement mostly because of COVID. It wasn't a safe situation for them to be in," Julia Dattolo, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County said. "We were in lockdown, so they decided to stay into retirement, but now because of economic situations, cost of food, cost of gas, they can't afford their retirement and their retirement portfolios are diminishing right now, so they want to come back and get a part-time job, a full-time job and in some cases two jobs."
Besides getting back to work, seniors are keeping a close eye on their investments, and many are tightening their spending.
Taylor Northrop has been a financial adviser for 17 years at Buttleman and Associates in West Palm Beach.
"If you are approaching retirement -- or if you're in retirement -- and the market is falling like it is now, does is make sense to keep taking money from the same source of income?" Northrop asked. "Or should you have in your retirement blueprint, another place to take income from, so you can ride the wave … You have to have a plan that has something in place."
Many seniors don't have a financial backup plan right now.
So, for many people like Salazar, it means finding work.
"If I can find somebody that'll hire me," Salazar said. "The problem is when you get older no one wants to hire you."
But if he can't find work, he already pondering the consequences.
"Well, it's a FHA homeowners insurance, so they'll foreclose on me," Salazar said. "I have a comfortable car. The seats lay all the way back, a Lincoln Town Car. I could live with my son or somewhere."
Salazar said he has been back to CareerSource several times looking for work in the last two weeks. He is open to any kind of light security gig and said he has a few ideas to deter crime in communities.
Meanwhile, Gilbert has a background in sales and marketing and has worked with drug treatment facilities. She's looking for something part-time — about 29 hours per week.
If you would like to connect with either of these candidates, please reach out to WPTV anchor Shannon Cake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CareerSource has a variety of resources for people looking for part-time work.
The website CareerSourcePBC.com links to state databases where you can find hundreds of job postings both full and part-time. There are CareerSource locations on the Treasure Coast and throughout Florida.
They have counselors on standby ready to work with you free of charge. You can use their computers and search for work at their facility. The services are all free to the public.
Dattolo said they also have a special program for former executives looking for work. These are seasoned professionals that meet once a month.
Each class is made of 20 people, but counselors help you narrow your search focus to help get you back into the workforce.
The group is usually made up of 30- to 40-year-olds, but their last class was notably an older group — more like 60 and older.
Northrop said he would be happy to assist anyone who may need some help with their finances. He works with a lot of teachers and firefighters, police officers — not necessarily wealthy portfolios.
ADDITIONAL HOUSING RESOURCES
- County-by-county resources for renters facing eviction
- OUR Florida - Emergency Rental Assistance Relief Program
- Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Economic Development
- Palm Beach County Community Services
- Boca Raton
- St. Lucie County
- Martin County
- Indian River County
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