'No reward': Push to end older-age homeless crisis
They're a group often left out of the housing crisis conversation, but many older Australians are finding themselves homeless at a time in their lives when stability is most important.
Older women in particular are at risk of reaching a point where after a life of unpaid, or low-paid care work, they don't have enough to support themselves in retirement.
Older women's network chief executive Yumi Lee explained many come from a generation where their main job was caring for the family.
"After decades of caring, of contributing to society, as they reach retirement and now find they have to live in such horrific circumstances is really no reward at all," Ms Lee said.
"It just takes like a bad health episode or a family break up then they're left with absolutely nothing."
An alliance of independent candidates and MPs in NSW is calling for the major parties to help stem the issue by lowering the priority age for social housing from 80 and introducing a specialist housing support service for older people.
The recommendations were floated by a recent parliamentary inquiry into homelessness among people aged over 55, but the government has so far failed to adopt the changes.
Independent MP Alex Greenwich said secure housing is the first line of defence in ensuring the health and wellbeing of older people.
He is calling for urgent change alongside teal candidates Joeline Hackman, Jacqui Scruby, Helen Conway and Victoria Davidson, and fellow independent MPs, Joe McGirr and Phil Donato.
Planning and Homes Minister Anthony Roberts said under the coalition a pipeline was in place to build 800 new senior-specific social dwellings over the next five years, with the Land and Housing Corporation having completed its first senior women's housing project in March 2021.
Opposition spokeswoman for housing and homelessness, Rose Jackson said if elected a Labor government would adopt the inquiry's recommendations to consider radical overhauls of approaches to social housing and homelessness.
"NSW has seen a surge in older women experiencing homelessness. They are in fact the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness in our community, which is completely unacceptable," Ms Jackson said.
Independent candidate for Pittwater, Jacqui Scruby said there were many stories of older people sleeping in cars along the Northern Beaches which includes her electorate.
"We are a compassionate community who knows we should support older people to make sure they have homes," Ms Scruby said.
"I call on the government to adopt the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into homelessness."
In Victoria, "Home at Last" offers free and confidential advice, support and advocacy to older people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or wanting to plan their housing future, provided by Housing for the Aged Action Group.
Victoria also recognises those aged over 55 as a priority for housing support.