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Paycheck to Paycheck: Working past retirement age

63-year-old Jimmy Hays has no plans on slowing down. He is eligible for retirement but has no retirement money.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — With the rising cost of living, among those hit hard, include people who are now questioning if they are as prepared for retirement. 

Inflation has forced some people to dip into their savings or stop putting money away all together.

63-year-old Jimmy Hays has no plans on slowing down. He is eligible for retirement but has no retirement money.

"I've saved a little, but it's not going to be enough to sustain me long term," he said.

Hays currently holds down a job as a dishwasher, but said it won't be enough to keep up with rising costs.

"I'm a man of color and I'm also a man of age, and also have a criminal history. All of those things hinder me from getting a productive job," he said. 

With his focused narrowed on just getting by, Hays knows all to well what it's like not to have a roof over his head, describing it as a fearful situation.

Hays currently lives in an apartment paying $200 a month through Mission 911, a transitional housing program, but he'll have to find a new place soon.

"I've checked into apartments, and the lowest I found is like $800, but that doesn't include utilities. And once I equate utilities and food, and also probably going to have to have cable/internet to sustain a nice life, I can't make it."

As many others consider working past 65, a survey by U.S. News and World Report found out of 2,000 people interviewed, about a third of people tapped into their retirement to stay afloat last year.

That same survey showed 41 percent put a stop to saving all together.

Salvation Army Community Relations and Development Manager Abbie Cieslik told 3NEWS that they have noticed a rise in the age of people they assist as more elderly residents come to their shelter.

"I feel like there could be a couple of reasons, but a lot of it goes back to the difficulty of securing a job for them with a livable wage, that could be a fallout from the pandemic still or maybe how our economy is right now," she said.

As Hays looks down the road, he is faced with choosing between his independence and a home. 

"If I take the car out of the equation, I could probably live in an apartment but transportation is so lucrative. I can get around, go where I need to be. All I do is go to work and come home," he said. 

His driving factor, working as long as he can trying to rewrite the pages of his own life.

"These are the consequences for the actions things I did in my past but I want to live on my own, be a good citizen, and put my past behind." he said.

Over the last three years, the City of Corpus Christi has invested through federal and state funding, $23 million that trickles down to various organizations like the Salvation Army that helps those in financial challenges.

City of Corpus Christi Assistant Director for Neighborhood Services Jennifer Buxton said that the city has already put out about $16 million in tenant and rental assistance alone. It has helped 3,000 people stay in their units following the COVID-19 pandemic, including elderly residents.

"There's no shame in needing assistance, but where to go to get that, what I always tell people the first place you should try is you call 211 or you go to 211texas.org," she said.

Buxton said homeless prevention is much easier to address than when someone has lost their home.

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