Around 7000 people at risk of becoming homeless are about to be moved to the top of the queue for secure social housing, but they must be 55 or older.
It is part of a pledge the Victorian Government made in May to reduce homelessness in the state. From next month, a new social housing category will be created solely for those aged 55 and older, many of whom have waited years to be placed in public housing.
Housing Minister Martin Foley said homelessness among older Australians is a serious, yet largely under-recognised problem.
“We know some of our most vulnerable Victorians waiting for housing are over the age of 55 – and they often wait the longest,” said Mr Foley.
According to Victoria’s Department of Human Services, there are currently around 57,000 people on the public housing waitlist, 11,000 of whom are ‘priority one’ cases.
Priority one cases usually have to wait around 12 months to be placed into accommodation.
The 7000 older Australians will increase the number of priority one cases to 18,000.
The Andrews Government has provided 1600 homes since making the pledge, and has promised a total of 6000 new public homes to help reduce this waiting list. The state has assigned $800 million towards this commitment.
According to Professor Guy Johnson at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Unison Housing Research Program, homelessness among the elderly is on the rise. He says that, because you’ll not often see them on the streets, it’s rarely noticed.
“Where we are seeing growth in older homeless people is not in the rough sleeping population, it’s more in the precarious housing circumstances, in boarding houses, share houses, caravans and so forth,” said Professor Johnson.
Do you hope that the Victorian Government’s example catches on among the other states? Are you, or is someone you know, waiting for public housing? Would you like to share your experience?