Policy ban to help homeless women

In an attempt to reduce the rate of homelessness among older women, homelessness advocates in New South Wales have urged the government to create better, stronger policies, allowing rental subsidies for older women and banning a current policy that allows renters to be evicted without cause.

These policy suggestions were released on International Women’s Day on Tuesday, as part of a plan drafted by a number of homelessness services, including Homelessness NSW.

According to comprehensive research conducted recently, women aged 50 and over make up the largest group of homeless people in Australia. And the number is growing.

According to YWCA NSW chief executive Anna Bligh, the reason why older women are more at risk of homelessness is due to their having inadequate superannuation savings to see them through their older years. This is due to lower salaries, interrupted careers in order to raise children and care for relatives, and working in low-skilled or low-paid jobs.

“Homelessness is an emerging trend with older women – our data shows us that, over the last five to six years, we’ve seen an acceleration in the number of women over 55 seeking out our homelessness services for the very first time,” said Ms Bligh.

The plan, developed by Homelessness NSW, called for a change to the “no cause eviction” clause in the Residential Tenancies Act, which says that tenants who are behind on rent may be evicted with just 14 days’ notice. Homelessness advocacy groups want to see that this clause, which has particular bearing on older tenants, is banned.

The plan also calls for introduction of new services and products, specifically geared towards assisting older women. This includes an entitlement to a private rental subsidy that would mirror subsidies offered to other at-risk groups, such as those with disabilities, who are waiting for social housing. Additionally, Homelessness NSW is encouraging the government to consider incentives for landlords to agree to long-term leases for older tenants.

The Residential Tenancies Act is currently being reviewed by NSW Fair Trading, with a report due back to the government in mid-2016.

Read more at theguardian.com.

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