A targeted campaign to support culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) seniors at risk of homelessness to find secure, long-term accommodation has been launched in Victoria.
The number of older people living in insecure housing has grown significantly in the past decade putting low-income seniors – often single women – at significant risk of homelessness. The latest ABS data from 2011 shows that 85,000 older people rent in the private market in Victoria, which represents an increase of 44 per cent since 2006.
The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) and the Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) have partnered to ramp up support and advocacy available to CALD communities with a high proportion of older renters.
Gemma White, project officer with HAAG, said private rental housing was highly insecure, unaffordable and unadaptable for people as they age.
“Older renters from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds often experience discrimination and hardship in the private rental market. They also have less access to resources that may help them with housing problems and to find secure, affordable housing,” she told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Ms White said older renters were highly vulnerable because they could find themselves issued with a notice to vacate at any time.
“We have had people who have lived in the same private rental house for 30 years and the landlord might pass away for example and the children take over the ownership of the house and decide to sell and suddenly the older person has to move.“
There was also no legal obligation for a landlord to modify the home to support the older tenant to age in place, she said.
The aim of the project was to make older people aware of their housing options and to link people into HAAG’s information and advocacy service, Home at Last, to help them access secure accommodation, Ms White said.
The project would also develop partnerships with ethno-specific aged care providers and support agencies.
The four language groups targeted as part of this project include Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Arabic speaking communities, South Asian (Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil) and South Slavic (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian).
“As a result of the project we anticipate having a 100 per cent increase in the numbers of CALD older people calling through to the housing support service; in the number of referrals to and from ethno-specific agencies, and a 100 per cent increase in the number of people that we are finding long-term secure housing for within our target communities.”
Ms White said since 2012 HAAG has rehoused 90 per cent of its clients within six months in public housing, social housing or independent living units.
“It’s about letting people know that there are options available out there and there are ways to access those options.”
However, she said there has been an under-utilisation of housing services among CALD communities, despite many reporting housing issues, which was why a dedicated CALD campaign was necessary.
ECCV chairperson, Eddie Micallef, said rising rental prices was placing significant pressure on the approximately 20, 000 older renters from a CALD background living in Victoria and negatively impacted on their quality of life.
Through targeted community education and culturally appropriate services, he said the project aimed to help older CALD people navigate through the housing system and into secure, appropriate accommodation.
Mr Micallef told AAA that the ultimate goal was to prevent homelessness or premature admission into aged care.
“A joint approach by ECCV and HAAG will enable ethnic and multicultural communities to better engage with housing services to receive information in their language and with consideration of cultural values.”
The Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott formally launched the Preventing Homelessness in Older CALD Communities project on Wednesday, which received funding from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the RE Ross Trust.