Surge of older homeless women

by admin on July 14th, 2018

filed under 苏州美甲美睫培训学校

Dame Maggie Smith’s role in ‘Lady in the Van’ put the spotlight on elderly people living in their cars. Photo: FDCTHE numbers of vulnerable older women without a safe place to live has started to rise.

On International Day of Older Persons (October 1), members of Mission Australia are urging the government to take action to reduce the number of older women becoming homeless.

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said the housing affordability issue meant older women, especially single older women who were renting, were particularly vulnerable to rental stress and at risk of homelessness.

“Small changes in their financial circumstances can affect their ability to pay rent, such as if their landlord puts up the rent, unexpected health costs arise or there is an increase rise in their electricity bill,” she said.

“They can be forced to dip into their limited retirement savings, if any, to make ends meet. We know that women tend to have less superannuation than men due to time out of the labour market for caring and lower average earnings.

When that dries up, they then fall into unstable, unsuitable accommodation such as refuges, hostels or onto the streets.”

Women who become homeless for the first time in later life are likely to have been private renters with a stable housing history.

But homelessness may be triggered by a crisis such as widowhood, marital breakdown, a health crisis, financial difficulties after retirement, onset of a mental illness, unaffordable rent, eviction and accessibility problems.

Ms Yeomans said affordable socialhousing suitable to an older persons’ needs and pension income would help reduce the rates of homelessness.

“For older women who do not own homes outright, the pension is increasingly inadequate to cover rental or mortgage costs, especially in major cities,” she said.

Ms Yeomans also urged older people who were homeless or at risk to becoming homeless to ask for help.

“Older women living precariously or homeless for the first time may not initiate engagement with specialist homelessness services because they don’t see themselves as homeless or are ashamed to reach out,” she said.

“Asking for help when experiencing a housing emergency early can help an older person to stay safely housed and stop them falling into a crisis situation.”

Census data from 2011 indicate an estimated one in seven, or about 15,000, homeless people were over the age of 55 years, an increase from 19.2 per cent from the 2006 census.

While 5,330 women over 55 identified as homeless in 2011, an increase of 12 per centsince 2006, the numbers aredifficult to count, as they are often experiencing ‘hidden homelessness’.

Across Australia, it is estimated that around 4.9 per centhouseholds of older people are paying more than 50 per centof their income on housing costs.In NSW, it iseven higher at 5.7 per cent.

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