Housing is critically important for physical and mental health, and general wellbeing of older people. With a decline in home ownership at retirement age, unprecedented increases in housing prices and a reduction in social and affordable housing stock in NSW, older people are experiencing significant housing challenges and are at increased risk of homelessness.
Given the scarcity of resources, service responses to homelessness often rightfully focus on people with high and complex needs. These services are crisis-oriented and do not meet the needs of older people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, many of whom have had traditional housing histories, do not recognise their experience as homelessness, or they have had minimal interaction with social services and are unlikely to present at a homelessness service for assistance. Instead, older people on low incomes live in precarious, untenable housing situations, with associated costs to their mental and physical health. It is critical that there are specialist supports in place for these people.
This report is advocating for the NSW Government to adopt the Home at Last program running in Victoria, which provides advice, support and advocacy for older people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.