Mission Australia’s Ageing and Homelessness: solutions for a growing problem report released today calls for urgent action to reduce the number of older Australians being pushed into homelessness.

Mission Australia’s CEO Catherine Yeomans warns that an ageing population and growing levels of housing stress will increase the number of people at risk of ageing in to homelessness.

Mission Australia CEO, Catherine Yeomans said, “The number of people aged over 55 who are reaching out for assistance from specialist homelessness services continues to grow.”

“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.

“One in six people aged over 55 who received help from a homelessness service reported having financial difficulties. It is a tragedy that older people don’t have the financial supports they need to stay in stable and secure accommodation.

“Appropriate housing that is truly affordable is a key part of the solution. 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.

“Our three aged care facilities provide a home for older people with complex needs – but there is demand for many more facilities like them. If funding was made available to build one new supported aged care facility in each state each year, that would have a meaningful impact on addressing the current shortfall.”

Older women continue to be particularly vulnerable to later-in-life homelessness, due to factors including a lack of superannuation, financial dependence and domestic and family violence. More women than men over 65 are renting and more older women sought help from specialist homelessness services in 2015-16 than older men.

Ms Yeomans said, “Addressing financial insecurity will have a big impact on addressing the growing number of women at risk of homelessness. 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 said that 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. 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.”

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