Significant growth in older people seeking specialist homelessness services

The number of older people in Australia accessing specialist homelessness services (SHS) has increased by over a third since 2012/13 to 23,600 clients, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 

The report “Specialist Homelessness Services 2016-17” shows the growth in older people accessing specialist homelessness services is double the average annual growth rate of the general SHS population.

HammondCare Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Judd said the report highlights the significant need for services and accommodation for older people who are homeless and particularly those who are at risk of homelessness: “The report shows the number of older homeless people accessing specialist homelessness services is growing rapidly, with an increase of 9% in the past year.

“And while proportionally this is still a relatively small group, they were accessing services for more days than on average, and more often were seeking long term accommodation,” Dr Judd said.

The report says the main reason for older people seeking assistance is a housing crisis (22%) followed by domestic and family violence (19%) and financial difficulties (17%). It shows 2 in 3 older clients presented as housed but 65% were at risk of homelessness.

Dr Judd said these figures confirm the growing need around the nation for long term housing for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and with a rapidly ageing population, this need was going to further increase.

HammondCare is building a 42 bed home for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in inner city Sydney, which will be completed in early 2019. It is hoped to replicate the project in other areas.

Artists impression of what HammondCare Darlinghurst will look like from the street.

“Homelessness for older people remains a significant issue and this project will provide a much needed services for people who are in dire need and help them regain some independence and stability with dignity in their lives,” Dr Judd said.

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