Homelessness a growing concern for older Australians

Lee Blake was forced onto the streets (ABC News screenshot)

A growing number of Australians aged over 55 are facing homelessness, according to Mission Australia, ABC News reports.

A new report from the Christian charity shows that about 22,000 people aged over 55 sought homelessness services between 2015 and 2016, up 15 per cent from the previous year.

Mission Australia chief executive Catherine Yeomans believes unless action is taken to address this issue, the number will continue to increase.

"We need more social and affordable housing, we need more support accommodation for people who are suffering health issues," she said.

"From 2030 to 2050 we expect the number of people over the age of 65 to double, so if we're already seeing high rates this problem is only going to get worse unless we invest in the future."

ABC News told the story of Lee Blake, 81. Ms Blake fell into debt 30 years ago, was forced to sell her home and has been living on and off the streets ever since.

Unable to afford the rising cost of rent, she has spent the past few years living out of a bus on the northern beaches of Sydney.

"I couldn't pay $300 a week rent when my pension's $280 and I do like to eat, so if you live in the street you think, 'Well, at least I'm eating,'" she said.

Ms Blake secured a social housing unit eight months ago with the help of her Mission Australia case worker, Lisa Belleri.

Ms Yeomans said there are several factors that contribute to vulnerability in older populations, especially for women.

"Some people are finding financial difficulties, so later in life they might not have any retirement savings, they might be in and out of work, and unfortunately family and domestic violence is another contributor," she said.

"Older women are particularly vulnerable because they've had caring responsibilities throughout their working life, they may have secured part-time work or intermittent casual work, and they may also find it hard to secure ongoing work when they reach their 50s and 60s before they qualify for the aged pension."


'Couldn't pay $300 rent when my pension's $280': Growing number of elderly facing homelessness (ABC News)

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