Older people and homelessness

15 Dec 2020

The latest AIHW data on homelessness services confirms that older people are the fastest growing subgroup to not only experience homelessness but also the the fastest growing cohort using homelessness services.

According to the report:

Key findings

  • In 2019–20, there were about 24,400 people aged 55 years or older seeking homelessness services.
  • The majority of older clients were living alone when they presented to SHS services (60%) and the proportion was higher for males (69%) than for females (53%).
  • 2 in 3 older clients presented housed but at risk of homelessness (66%).
  • More than half (54%) of older clients in 2019–20 were returning clients, that is, they had previously been assisted by a SHS agency at some point since the collection began in 2011–12.
  • Housing outcomes for older clients improved; of those clients with closed support, 26% of older clients were known to be homeless at the end of support compared with 34% at the beginning.
  • The proportion of ‘rough sleepers’ decreased from 11% at the beginning of support to 7% at the end of support in 2019–20.
  • Most older clients known to be at risk of homelessness at the start of support were assisted to maintain a housing tenancy (94%).

The majority of older clients reported no vulnerabilities, only 1 in 5 reported a current mental health issues and 1 in 7 reported a family or domestic violence issue

Main reasons for seeking assistance

The 3 main reasons why older clients sought assistance from SHS agencies in 2019–20 were (Supplementary table OLDER.5):

  • housing crisis (18% or 4,300 clients)
  • financial difficulties (17% or 4,200)
  • family and domestic violence (17% or 4,100)

Services needed and provided

In 2019–20, over half (51% or 12,500) of older SHS clients needed accommodation, of those 36% were provided with some type of accommodation assistance. Demand was highest for long-term accommodation (39% or 9,600 needed long-term accommodation) compared with medium-term (21% or 5,100) and short-term or emergency accommodation (27% or 6,600).

Of the older clients that needed long-term housing, less than 1 in 15 (6%) were provided with assistance.

Access the full report here