An Eastern Suburbs program that supports seniors 65 years old and over who are homeless or at risk of homelessness has been inundated with calls for help from people facing eviction notices in the past two months.
The Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) program run by Anglicare, provides people over the age of 65 facing homelessness with intensive case support and temporary accommodation until they are able to transition into affordable and appropriate housing.
“The demand for our service in the eastern suburbs has been gradually increasing for the past three years,” says Liat Zichrony, Anglicare’s ACHA coordinator.
“Now, at least for the past two months, all we’ve been dealing with are frail elderly residents on the verge of eviction, either because the rents have skyrocketed or because the owners have decided to renovate and sell their property. Notices to vacate are reflection of the current property market, sometimes whole buildings that provided affordable accommodation are sold for higher returns and a completely different client group.
“The situation has become so desperate that we have started looking for lodgings on Air BnB. Many older people who are squeezed out of the rental market lived in the Eastern Suburbs for decades and uprooting them from their supports networks can be a traumatic experience for them. Not only are they uprooted from their support networks, they also have to compete with others in need and can feel marginalised and invisible.”
On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless. 6% of them are over the age of 65.
The City of Sydney’s summer Street Count reported a record number of 486 people sleeping rough on Sydney’s streets (counted in the early hours of February 23, 2016). This is a dramatic rise from the 352 counted in the last survey (August 2015). This is the highest it’s been since street counts began in August 2008.
The estimated number of clients assisted by agencies each year has increased from 236,000 in 2011–12 to 256,000 in 2014–15, representing an average annual growth rate of 2.6%.
There is no joy in the private rental market either if you are on supported incomes. Last year Anglicare found between 2015 and 2016, the total number of properties listed for rent in the Eastern Suburbs Statistical Area decreased by 6% to 1,167. Only one property was deemed to be affordable and appropriate for households receiving income support without pushing them into rental stress.
There is also a dearth of social housing stock in NSW with many waiting up to and more than 10 years for a home and AHURI cautiously estimates a lack of 212,000 affordable dwellings for the lowest two income quintiles in Australia.
During Homelessness Week Anglicare is calling on both State and Federal governments to do more to assist those who are ending up on the streets with nowhere to go.
“With the severe shortage of affordable and appropriate social housing stock, our concern is that more people will be pushed into homelessness,” says Liat.
Anglicare is also looking to expand its services and provide more accommodation to people who are in similar situations across Sydney.
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