Thousands face homelessness with closure of Home at Last
Published: 13 February 2015
The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) urges the new Victorian government to continue funding older persons’ housing service Home at Last, or thousands will face homelessness.
For the past 3 years the Victorian Government has funded the service to address the massive increase in older people at risk of homelessness, which is currently about 85,000 people in Victoria.
Unfortunately the government did not put future funding plans in place after June 2015 and without further support, Home at Last will be forced to close on 31 March 2015.
Run by the Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG), Home at Last has been highly successful in providing 45,000 older people with housing options information and, most importantly, helping over 800 to relocate from precarious housing to long term affordable accommodation.
With the number of Australians aged 65 and over expected to increase rapidly - from around 2.5 million in 2002 to 6.2 million in 2042 - the group has never been more important, says AASW National Vice President Christine Craik.
“We have lower rates of home ownership, a lack of affordable housing for those on low incomes and the number of older people forced to rent in the under regulated private rental sector is set to double every ten years,” says Ms Craik.
“It has been predicted that the number of older people on low incomes needing affordable rental housing will reach 419,000 by 2026.”
The AASW believes the new Victorian Government must work with HAAG and other specialist older persons housing agencies to develop and fund an Older Persons Homelessness Support Program that would ensure appropriate services for older people at risk of homelessness are available across the state.
“Home at Last is a one of a kind service which prevents homelessness from occurring by helping older people to plan ahead and transition into long term affordable housing that is suitable for the rest of their lives,” Ms Craik concluded.
The AASW represents approximately 8000 social workers.