Homeless Older People Overlooked
6 August 2015 at 11:27 am
Sydney’s increasingly expensive housing market is contributing to the rise in the number of older homeless people, HammondCare warned during Homelessness Prevention Week.
The health and aged care charity identified the combination of low, fixed incomes and high health costs for the elderly as a significant barrier to accessing housing in inner Sydney.
Their submission, Homelessness Amongst Older People, to the City of Sydney’s Housing Issues Paper also says incorrect assumptions about older people means they are overlooked when it comes to homelessness service provisions, despite being one of the most vulnerable groups.
“Older people are generally assumed to be homeowners. The Age Pension and aged care system are designed on the assumption that older people own their own home, and yet increasingly this is not the case,” the submission said.
According to the ABS, in 2011-12, 13.5 per cent of people aged 65 and over were in the private rental market and another 7.5 per cent were paying off a mortgage.
The submission includes predictions that the number of older people in the private rental market will increase by 115 per cent by 2026.
Weekly median rents in Sydney will also exceed 30 per cent of the maximum age pension for a single person, even with rent assistance.
“Housing affordability is clearly an issue for older people in Sydney and it is crucial that they are considered in any efforts to address the housing crisis,” the submission said.
“Efforts should include an examination by all levels of Government as to how policy, legislative and planning arrangements affect housing prices and the availability of affordable rental accommodation for low-income and vulnerable groups in Sydney.”
A significant increase in the number of older people requiring social housing has been recorded in recent years. It is projected that by 2021, older people will be the largest group of people in need of social housing, making up more than a third of demand in New South Wales.
HammondCare’s recommendations include more residential aged care services for older people in inner Sydney that provide both long term accommodation and care.
“Older homeless people require fundamentally different service models to homeless people generally; services which respond to the specific needs and challenges of the older person,” the submission said.
The charity called for all future social housing construction and developments to be designed with older people in mind and adhere to the Liveable Housing Design Guidelines that incorporate ease of entry, wider doors and halls, and safe spaces to move around in.