Lydia Smith stands in the kitchen of her home in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. She has lived in this apartment for 46 years, and now that she is on a fixed income, she pays rent with the aid of Section 8 tenant-based assistance. (photo: Megan Miller/NPR)
Lydia Smith stands in the kitchen of her home in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. She has lived in this apartment for 46 years, and now that she is on a fixed income, she pays rent with the aid of Section 8 tenant-based assistance. (photo: Megan Miller/NPR)

 

Ina Jaffe | NPR | Reader Supported News | November 17, 2015

overty does not treat men and women equally, especially in old age. Women 65 years old and older who are living in poverty outnumber men in that age range by more than 2 to 1. And these women are likely to face the greatest deprivation as they become older and more frail.

This pretty much describes the situation of 87-year-old Lydia Smith.

In her small, tidy apartment near downtown Los Angeles, she’s surrounded by dozens of family photographs. She picks out one and points to her twin sister, her mother, and her brother. “Unfortunately, he’s gone,” she says. “She’s gone,” she says pointing to her sister. And “Mama’s gone,” she says.

Smith, a war bride, came to the United States from Rome with her family after World War II. But she got divorced in the 1950s and never remarried. Once her son and daughter were grown, she moved to this second story walk-up.

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