Ahead of the International Day of Older Persons this Sunday 1 October, Mission Australia’s CEO Catherine Yeomans says that all levels of government need to address the growing number of older Australians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Mission Australia CEO, Catherine Yeomans said, “We know from our work at Mission Australia that a range of factors can make people more vulnerable to homelessness as they get older. From health concerns to rental stress and financial insecurity, we can identify what the risks are. Now we need action to address them.”

“Too many older Australians are in precarious housing situations. There are more people retiring who do not own their own home and the cost of weekly rents can be a huge financial strain when retirement incomes are so limited.”

“Every member of our community should be able to age with dignity, in a home that is safe and secure,” said Ms Yeomans.

While older women continue to be vulnerable to later-in-life homelessness, due to financial, social and family factors, men continue to account for the largest number of older rough sleepers and those staying in boarding houses.

Ms Yeomans said, “After people have been rough sleeping or have experienced homelessness for an extended period, finding permanent accommodation is an essential first step. Wraparound, individual supports are also needed to address the underlying factors that led to homelessness, so we don’t see a cycle where people end up back on the streets.”

“Supported housing models, like the MISHA Project pilot in Parramatta and Mission Australia’s Common Ground in Camperdown, provide people with a stable place to live while they access services that address their physical and mental health, life skills or other personal needs,” she said.

Henry, 72, had been living in a tent at Central Station for nearly 4 months earlier this year before finding temporary accommodation. At that time he connected with Mission Australia via our Missionbeat Outreach service. Our staff advocated for Henry and assisted him to navigate the housing system and secure permanent accommodation.

Henry said, “I’ve been homeless for many years; sleeping here and there. When I was first homeless, I didn’t know what to expect. But I remember thinking “how scary is this?” I was recently camping at Central Station where I was bashed and robbed. It was scary. Being homeless is scary.”

“Missionbeat Outreach bent over backwards for me. They made sure I was settled into my new home, arranged to get me some furniture and they regularly touched base with me to make sure I was comfortable.The support I received was out of this world.”

“My home is just a dream. I don’t have to worry about anything anymore. I’m independent and can look after myself. I no longer need the help of Missionbeat Outreach. I’ve got their details just in case, but I feel totally independent,” he said.

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