With one in three older women living in income poverty, Mission Australia is using tomorrow’s International Day of Older Persons to call for government action on accommodation for homeless older women.
Without an increase in appropriate affordable housing, the numbers of vulnerable older women without a safe place to live would continue to climb, the charity says.
Mission Australia’s CEO Catherine Yeomans said that given the housing affordability crisis, older women and 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 a 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. When that dries up, they then fall into unstable, unsuitable accommodation such as refuges, hostels or onto the streets.”
The call from Mission Australia follows a report earlier this month by The Benevolent Society which found 1.5 million older Australians relied on the Age Pension and almost a third of them were living in poverty (read that story here).
Other recent studies have consistently highlighted the urgent need for affordable seniors housing.
In March Australian Ageing Agenda reported on a study that found one in three older Australian women were living in long-term income poverty (read that story here).
In the lead-up to International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, Mission Australia said that women who became homeless for the first time in later life were 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 or financial difficulties after retirement, the charity said.
It urged the Commonwealth and state governments to facilitate funding of at least 200,000 new social homes by 2025 and capital works programs to update existing social infrastructure.
The organisation also called for a pipeline of new affordable housing facilitated by leveraging private investment.
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