Another Missed Opportunity to Provide Safe Housing for Older Women in NSW

New South Wales government handed down the State budget today. It was encouraging to see the additional investment to address rough sleeping in NSW with $57 million for Together Home program. However, it was disappointing to see the lack of investment on housing support for older people.

Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) coordinates the NSW Ageing on the Edge Forum consisting of a network of people with lived experience, advocates, peak advocacy bodies and service providers. The forum made a prebudget submission asking the government to –

  • establish a state-wide housing information and support service for older people at risk of or experiencing homelessness and to engage with and provide early support for others to plan for their housing futures (based on the successful Victorian Home at Last model),
  • lowering the qualifying age for priority social housing from 80 years old, and
  • supported the calls from the sector to increase the stock of social and affordable housing in NSW.

The NSW Homelessness Strategy recognises that between 2013/14 and 2016/17, NSW saw 88% growth in the number of women over the age of 55 years accessing homelessness services. The NSW Audit Office report ‘Responses to Homelessness 2021’ found that construction of purpose-built accommodation for older women was significantly behind schedule.

HAAG Executive Officer Fiona York said “we know that older people, particularly older women are the emerging face of homelessness. We also know that these women are unlikely to access services online or know where to start if they are in a housing crisis.”

She added “we welcome the additional investment of $57 million over two years for Together Home program and see that as a critical part of addressing homelessness. This funding will address the needs of people sleeping rough but that is only one form of homelessness. If we are to address the issue, there needs to be a holistic approach and setting up a service to assist older people to navigate the housing system to identify safe and sustainable housing options that suit their needs is a good starting point.”

The recent release of Queensland Housing Strategy Action Plan 2021-2025, which coincided with the Queensland budget, commits the Queensland government to “develop and deliver housing with support for older people experiencing or at risk of homelessness including responses for older women”.

Ms York added “given the importance of having a place to call home and the success of Home at Last model in Victoria, we encourage NSW government to follow the lead of Victoria and Queensland to invest in services that target and support older people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  We welcome any opportunity to work with NSW government and other stakeholder to share our learnings and expertise.”

For more information contact Fiona York, Executive Officer, or 0449 554 142