This study investigated the issues affecting older Australians who are experiencing or facing homelessness including the capacity to access Specialist Homeless Services and other government supports, and potential ways to escape homelessness for older people. The research also considered appropriate, successful international practices for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Where once homelessness in older age was seen to be limited to men, increasing numbers of women are affected. This reflects the ageing of the baby boomer generation and societal changes, including the increasing incidence of divorce.
A growing number and percentage of people are experiencing homelessness for the first time in older age.
Service providers and people who are homeless alike report that the current system of supporting older people who experience homelessness is fragmented, too poorly resourced and unable to provide long-term solutions.
International experience shows that homelessness needs to be addressed through long-term policies and programs that focus on prevention, early intervention, the provision of ‘housing first’, and the supply of ‘wraparound’ services.
Training for staff so that they are empathetic and well equipped to deal with the complexities of providing homelessness support is central to better solutions.
Expansion of the Assistance with Care and Housing program (ACH) would offer a simple first step to better support this vulnerable group.