At BaptistCare HopeStreet, we see the cause and effect of homelessness everyday. New research now confirms older Australians are increasingly at risk, with relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, health problems, or deaths in their family often a contributing factor*.
According to a recent Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) report, the proportion of homeless people aged 65 to 74 jumped almost 40 per cent in the five years to 2016.
Kerry Palmer experienced one of the key risk factors. After her marriage broke down she had nowhere to go.
“We owed more on the house than we bought it for. He [her husband] said I had to move out,” said Kerry.
With only her pension to rely on, Kerry borrowed money for a bond, and began her search for an affordable place to live. “You don’t have much choice when you’re on a pension because people just don’t want to take you. I looked everywhere.”
She found a privately-leased converted garage. “It was freezing cold in winter, and boiling hot in summer with the old roller doors and everything. I painted it and made it the best I could.”
Kerry ended up staying 11 years. “The thought of having to move again was just too much.”
“I wasn’t secure. Drug dealers lived in the main house. There’s the stress of never knowing when you’ll be asked to leave.”
Kerry moved into a brand new apartment at BaptistCare Bouddi Place on the Central Coast in August 2019. It’s an affordable housing community of seniors and single parent families, with an onsite manager and a tailored support coordinator ensuring tenants have access to services that encourage independence and wellbeing.
“I don’t know that I could have ever dreamed of something like this. It’s so lovely. And it’s taken all the stress off me.”
*Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI)