Are older women the new face of homelessness?

Older women are emerging as a vulnerable cohort, with many of their housing options unaffordable or only accessible for the short-term.

‘Women over 55 years of age are now the fastest growing homeless population in Australia,’ says Teresa Reed of Mangrove Housing who will be presenting at #NHCDarwin on ‘the forgotten women’. These women are sometimes referred to as ‘the hidden homeless’, she says, as they are less likely to be sleeping rough and more likely to be staying with friends, living in a car, living under the threat of violence or have their unstable housing be less visible to family and service providers.

Caroline Larcher of the Women’s Property Initiative has researched into this group and found that the modest group of assets makes women over 55 ineligible for social housing, but also with low financial capacity to access a mortgage with no working career ahead of them.

Various reports suggest that this cohort could double by 2036 and that there appears to be an extremely limited range of specific services and accommodation options for this cohort in Australia.

Debbie Georgopoulos from the Women’s Housing Company and Kathryn Proft, Senior Policy Officer at the Australian Human Rights Commission, will join Caroline Larcher and Teresa Reed in a panel on older women and homelessness at this year’s NHC.

Discussing the role housing stress within the private rental sector plays in this rising cohort, the panel will look at possible forms of prevention to lower the risk of homelessness and what role innovation and technology may play in this space. The Women’s Property Initiative, for example, is aiming to provide low-income women over 55 with modest assets to invest them in new developments, which will provide security of tenure at an affordable, income-based rent and maintain the value of their capital investment.

This panel will be facilitated by Dr Amity James, Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics, Finance and Property at Curtin University. The group’s session is titled Housing choices for older women and will be held in the afternoon’s block of concurrent sessions.

View the full program online here.