Rising rents creating a ‘time bomb’ of homelessness for older Australians
30 October 2019 at 5:17 pm
Homelessness among people over 55 is rising faster than any other age group
There has been a 37 per cent increase of older people using homelessness services since 2013, according to new research that has prompted calls for a boost to social housing investment.
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) said 24,094 people over 55 needed homelessness services in 2018, with 11,963 people seeking support in Victoria alone.
Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) CEO Jenny Smith said homelessness among people over 55 was rising faster than any other age group.
She said this highlighted that the country’s older population were being locked out of the private rental market.
“The rise of homelessness for older people over the last five years is alarming and it’s clear that more must be done to address this issue,” Smith said.
“This problem isn’t going away and in fact, it’s getting worse.”
Smith said she was particularly concerned by the rise of homelessness in older women, which has increased 48 per cent in Victoria since 2013.
She noted women were less visible in their homelessness, because they were less likely to be sleeping rough and were more likely to be sleeping in their car or couch surfing.
“This means that it’s easier for them to go unnoticed,” she said.
“Governments have consistently ignored the fact that our rapidly ageing population, combined with the rising costs of rents is creating a time bomb of older homelessness.”
Housing and rental affordability has proven to be a key issue for older Australians, with ABS statistics showing a 42 per cent increase in people over 65 paying unaffordable rents in Australia since 2011.
Anglicare’s 2019 Rental Affordability Snapshot found only 0.8 per cent of properties were suitable for a single person on the age pension, compared to 1.24 per cent of homes last year.
Smith said the federal government needed to take concrete action on housing to reverse this trend.
“New federal investment in social housing, and a national partnership that encourages the states to also invest in growth, would deliver the social housing safety urgently needed by older Australians, and other households at risk of homelessness,” she said.