Seven New South Wales independent candidates and MPs are calling on the incoming state government to address homelessness among older people by:
- introducing a specialist housing support service for older people.
- lowering the priority age from 80 years; and
- building more social and affordable housing
The independents, Alex Greenwich MP, Dr Joe McGirr MP, Phil Donato MP, Joeline Hackman, Jacqui Scruby, Helen Conway and Victoria Davidson have thrown their support behind the recommendations put forward by the NSW Ageing on the Edge Forum and endorsed by the NSW parliamentary inquiry into homelessness amongst older people aged over 55.
“The Government should urgently adopt all the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into homelessness amongst older people aged over 55 and build more social and community housing,” Greenwich says.
“Secure housing is the first line of defence in ensuring the health and wellbeing of older people. I have called on the Government to lower the age for priority social housing from 80 years and introduce a specialist support model like the Victorian ‘Home at Last’ service to ensure older people get the support they need to prevent homelessness.”
NSW Ageing on the Edge Forum is a coalition of about 140 members and supporters, including housing, homelessness and community sector organisations, peak bodies, and older people who know what it’s like to be in housing crisis.
Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) coordinates the Forum and Executive Officer Fiona York says urgent action is required. The inquiry heard from many older people, particularly older women, who are struggling to find homes, couch-surfing, languishing in inappropriate accommodation, or waiting almost 10 years to access social housing.
“With rents in New South Wales sky high and vacancy rates low, too many older people are struggling find a home,” York says.
“There are 240,000 older people over 55 living in private rentals in New South Wales, and almost 120,000 are on low or very low incomes. They face increased risk of homelessness as they age as a result. That represents a big problem, but we have the solutions.
“A housing crisis and support service like Home at Last would prevent many older people from falling into homelessness in the first place. If the government were to build more social housing and lower the priority age far fewer older people would be couch surfing or waiting years for social housing."
“With more than 110,000 older women at risk of homelessness in NSW, I call on the NSW government to implement the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into homelessness amongst older people. With a rental affordability crisis like never seen before, the government must support the most vulnerable in our community.”
"NSW has a growing housing crisis - rising trends of homelessness, housing rental stress and insecurity and a lack of social and affordable housing. I know from my experience as the President and Chair of the YWCA that we need urgent investment in social and affordable housing. The NSW government should take the lead here and not outsource this responsibility to developers. If elected, I will hold the government of the day to account to deliver a comprehensive strategy for housing in NSW including clear targets for increasing the supply of social and affordable housing."
“You hear too many stories of people aged over 55 sleeping in cars along the Northern Beaches. We are a compassionate community who knows we should support older people to make sure they have homes. I call on the government to adopt the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into homelessness. We need a specialist older peoples' housing service and to lower the age for priority housing as a start.”
“The increase of homelessness in older women is extremely concerning and needs urgent action. Investing money in targeted services now, ensures these women can thrive, not just survive.”
Pictured at top of page: Dini Liyanarachchi, Jacqui Scrubi, Alex Greenwich MP, Victoria Davidson and Joeline Hackman