Policy Note: Covid-19 and older people in housing stress

This policy note to bring to light the difficult choices facing older people during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to both service and survey data from HAAG in late April and May the lives of older people experiencing rental stress are becoming even more precarious. We know they already make up the fastest growing segment of the social housing and private rental market. In Victoria there are more than 28,000 households of people aged over 65 who are in severe housing stress.

The experiences of these people are unique and varied; but many relied on precarious lifelines that have been disrupted by Covid-19. We also know that people over 65 are at greater risk of more serious illness with Covid-19.

We’ve spoken to 102 Victorians aged between 55 and 85 years old about the impact of Covid-19 on their housing, 18 of whom came to our housing support service with Covid-19 related housing issues. These people are living across private rental, public and community housing, retirement housing, or are experiencing homelessness. More than a third are feeling less secure, and a quarter expect paying rent to become harder.

This note provides some guidance for which areas of policy require urgent action with the goal of preventing more people from experiencing housing stress and homelessness as a result of Covid-19.

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