Social housing surge urged

IN the five years between the 2011 and 2016 Census, homelessness among women aged 55 years and older, increased by 31 per cent.

While older women experiencing homelessness is the fastest growing group, it’s hidden from the public eye.
They’re not likely to be ‘sleeping rough’. Older homeless women tend to be living in crisis accommodation, boarding houses, hostels, couch surfing or sleeping in their cars.
The housing crisis among older women is not being addressed by government policy and a group of community, housing and homelessness organisations want change.
The group held an election forum earlier this month to hear from the major parties and how they intend to address this issue, with the forum attended by over 90 people, including members of the Older Women’s Network in Bankstown.
The forum heard from Robyn who found herself couch surfing in her retirement.
Although Robyn worked and raised her children on her own after losing her husband, she found that after a serious illness, her super was not enough. Rents were too high for her to afford. For Robyn what made the difference was social housing. But there is just not enough social housing for the growing need.
Across Australia there are over 142,000 eligible households waiting for social housing. They can be waiting a decade, especially in Sydney.
Senator Jenny McAllister, Labor’s spokesperson for Family and Community, told the forum that Labor planned to build 250,000 affordable homes. Senator Mehreen Faruqi outlined the Greens’ housing and homelessness plan that featured a Housing Trust to build 500,000 energy efficient social housing dwellings.
The forum organisers are calling for investment in at least 500,000 social and affordable houses over the next 10 years and the development of a National Housing and Homelessness Strategy.