Longing for home this Christmas

The insurmountable barriers to finding a safe and affordable home mean that some people in our community won’t have a home this Christmas. Recent reports reveal the difficulties that older women and people seeking asylum face in finding a home.

 The report Home At Last: Solutions to end Homelessness of Older People in NSW underscores why housing is critically important for older people, particularly older women, and the barriers that prevent them from finding a home. It’s estimated that 110,000 women over 45 years of age in NSW are at risk of homelessness. 

The report calls for the establishment of a service like Home at Last that is tailored to the needs of older people, a reduction in the priority age for social housing (currently 80 years) and an investment in 5,000 social and affordable homes for 10 years. These three actions will ensure older people aren’t faced with the indignity and despair of homelessness in their retirement years.

People seeking asylum and chronic homelessness
A new report by Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)  and Western Sydney University’s Translational Health Research Institute has found that years after arriving in Australia, people seeking asylum face chronic homelessness and housing exclusion in the community. The Mercy Foundation provided funding for the report through its Grants to End Homelessness program.

A Place to Call Home shows how restrictions on economic and social rights associated with visa status, barriers to employment in competitive labour markets, and Sydney’s high rental prices generate conditions under which homelessness and housing exclusion become a feature of the lives of people seeking asylum.

Communities across Australia are struggling to address the growing demand
The damaging impacts of a chronic shortage of affordable housing across Australia were evident in the 70-plus calls received in the last few months, regarding our Grants to End Homelessness program. Organisations call us to discuss potential projects to help end or prevent homelessness for their citizens most in need. Many callers spoke about their concerns for older women, First Nations people, young people leaving out-of-home care and women experiencing domestic and family violence in their community.

Ending homelessness requires access to affordable, appropriate housing, coupled with tailored support to address any challenges the person may face once housed. The Housing First model not only makes complete sense, but it works. Without safe and secure housing, it’s difficult to get or keep a job, to address health challenges, to maintain relationships with family or friends. Safe, secure, permanent and affordable housing is fundamental to good health and wellbeing.