Older women fall victim to crisis in homelessnes,

Julia May in the Age, Tuesday 9 April 2014.

In 2012 Joan Lansbury was living in a rundown flat in Pascoe Vale with dodgy hot water, a leaky toilet and appliances that didn't work properly.

She was too scared to complain in case the owner of the flat she'd rented for 15 years put the price up.

But suddenly he did just that, leaving Ms Lansbury, then retired after 25 years as a nursing aide, just $70 a fortnight to live on. She didn't know where to turn.

"I must admit things were so bad at some stages I didn't care whether I was alive or dead," she says.

Ms Lansbury is one of a soaring number of ordinary middle-class women who find themselves on the verge of homelessness in older age.

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Middle class, hard working and homeles by Julia May

An alarming number of older women in Victoria are becoming homeless. Many are middle-class and reluctant to seek help.

It was hot water Joan Lansbury missed the most. If she felt some warmth in the kitchen tap she'd strip off and race to the shower, no matter the hour. "It didn't last long and you didn't know when the hot water was going to come on again," says Lansbury, 71.

Normally, she would fill the kitchen sink with water she had heated on the stove and sponge herself down. "Try that in the middle of winter. It's not much fun."

I don’t think I ever could see myself living on the street ... But the costs of living are so high that it really can happen to anyone. 

That was 2012, and Lansbury was living in a rundown flat in Pascoe Vale, in Melbourne's north, with dodgy hot water, a leaky toilet and appliances that didn't work properly.

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The Age, Saturday March 25 2014

About 25 per cent of Australians now rent privately, compared to 18 per cent in 1994-95. They are renting for longer and they are getting older. But amid our property extravaganza, government policies effectively treat renters as second-class citizens.

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Suzy Freeman-Greene is a senior writer at The Age.

image by Dean Osland the Age.


Letter by Dalene Salisbury, Housing for the Aged Action Group.

the Age, Tuesday 25 March 2014

"Providing more equity in the allowances should not have the effect of driving older people into further poverty. Our group's Home at Last service hears from thousands of older people who are paying, on average, 60 to 70 per cent of their age pension on private market rent. Many do not use their heating, cut back on food and are ''one eviction notice'' away from homelessness".

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