At Risk of Homelessness: Preventing Homelessness in Older Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities

The Preventing Homelessness in Older Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities project has been a ground-breaking initiative that has aimed to, and succeeded in, significantly improving access to affordable housing options for older people from high need CALD communities in Victoria.When Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) and the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) first came together to discuss the potential for collaborating on this project, we found that there was almost no research on the housing needs of older people from a CALD background. However, there was substantial anecdotal evidence from individuals and communities connected to ECCV and data collected by HAAG’s Home at Last service that demonstrated a significant need to improve access to affordable accommodation.As public housing has been in decline over recent decades, the eligibility guidelines and processes for all Victorians have become much more complex. The increasing and significant barriers to obtaining affordable housing serve to discourage members of the community from applying for this service. These obstacles are particularly inhibiting for those who are also confronted with barriers of language, culture and mistrust of the service system.As a response to these multiple and significant barriers, the Preventing Homelessness in Older CALD Communities project undertook to identify and assist the most disadvantaged communities who are least likely to seek assistance and help them to navigate their way to affordable housing. This involved targeting information and support to older, more recently arrived migrants that have the least understanding of and access and connections to resources and mainstream services. The next step was to promote the availability of HAAG’s Home at Last service to people in these communities and then allow the skilled knowledge and advocacy of Home at Last to create pathways to public and social housing.This report explains the processes undertaken by the project, the experiences of the participants, and the significant learnings and outcomes of the project. We hope that this project encourages more research into the need for affordable housing for older people from a migrant or refugee background. Most importantly it provides a template for more effective service delivery to people in these communities.