This research examines homelessness amongst older populations (aged 55+) including the distinctive reasons for and issues faced by older people, many of whom are experiencing homelessness for the first time.
Older Australians are increasingly experiencing financial and housing insecurity, and represent approximately 8 per cent of the demand for specialist homelessness services (SHS). Between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of older people who were homeless increased for those aged 55 to 64 years by 26 per cent, aged 65 to 74 years by 37.9 per cent; and aged over 75 years by 14 per cent. In addition, in 2016–17, use of SHS by older people increased by 37 per cent from the 2012–13 figures.
Service providers and people who are homeless report that the current system of supporting older people who experience homelessness is fragmented, too poorly resourced and unable to provide long-term solutions. Homelessness service provision is disconnected from aged-care services, and many older people experiencing homelessness often do not see themselves as homeless and know little about either service.
Workshops conducted as part of this research identified five actions to improve the quality of life of older people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness: more public/social, affordable, appropriate housing; better coordination, integration and collaboration between and within services systems; more government funding and support; frontline service providers who can empathise with clients; and empowerment and education for older people of their rights.