The report, Ageing and Homelessness: solutions for a growing problem highlights the impact Australia’s growing ageing population and housing stress will have on the number of homeless older Australians.
Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans warns of an increase in homeless seniors is imminent with the population of older Australians aged over 65 expected to more than double by 2057.
“The number of people aged over 55 who are reaching out for assistance from specialist homelessness services continues to grow,” she explains.
“The high cost of housing is placing great financial strain on many older people, particularly those who are renting.
“For people who are surviving on social security payments like the age pension, there’s not much left over after paying the rent each week.”
She adds it is a ‘tragedy’ that older people don’t have the financial supports they need to stay in stable and secure accommodation with the statistics showing that one in six people over 55 who receive help from a homelessness service admit to having financial difficulties.
“Appropriate housing that is truly affordable is a key part of the solution,” she says.
“We must provide options that include supports to age in place, social housing and more intensive supported accommodation models that allow people to age in their communities where they feel safe, connected and supported.
“We need to invest in social housing that is appropriate for older people; housing that is accessible and designed to accommodate their particular needs.
“Mission Australia is calling for a commitment from government to build 60,000 additional social housing dwellings specifically for older people.”
Ms Yeomans goes on to say that those at an increased risk of homelessness are older women, due to factors including a lack of superannuation, financial dependence and domestic and family violence.
She adds that more women than men over 65 are renting and that more older women sought help from specialist homelessness services in 2015-16 than older men.
“Addressing the financial insecurity will have a big impact on addressing the growing number of women at risk of homelessness,” Ms Yeomans says.
“Women who work casually or part-time, who take time off to be carers, or who get paid less than their male colleagues, retire with limited savings putting them in precarious financial positions.
“Strategies should be put in place now to boost economic security for women to prevent heightened risks of homelessness in later life.”
Ms Yeomans says all levels of government need to act to provide the supports that will allow older people to age with dignity in safe and secure homes.
“Everyone deserves a safe and secure home,” she explains.
“Older members of our community, in particular, need stable accommodation where they can look after their mental and physical health and age with the respect they deserve.”