Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Debbie Faulkner, Senior Research Fellow, UniSA Business, University of South Australia

Older women have been recognised as the fastest-growing group of homeless people in Australia in recent years. Yet until now we have not known exactly how many older women are at risk of homelessness. Our research, released today, finds about 240,000 women aged 55 or older and another 165,000 women aged 45-54 are at risk of homelessness.

The startling data from our research give us a much better picture of the scale of the problem. We also quantify the impacts of the various factors that may increase women’s risk of becoming homeless.

Sign up to The Conversation

Effective policy is grounded in quantifying the nature and complexity of issues. To date, a limited but growing number of studies have highlighted the experiences of older women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. But few studies quantified the numbers at risk and the factors that increase the risk.

What puts women at risk?

Older woman looks at her rent payment notices. Older people who live in private rental housing are at higher risk of becoming homeless. Shutterstock

Older people are generally considered to be at less risk of homelessness because of their higher rates of home ownership. But increasingly unaffordable housing has added to concerns about the circumstances and living situations of older people who do not own homes, have limited wealth and savings and do not have the benefit of living in social housing. These households rely on the private rental market and are at considerable risk of housing affordability stress and hence homelessness.

Read more: Older and poorer: Retirement Income Review can't ignore the changing role of home

To examine risk profiles, we constructed an empirical model of risk of homelessness since the 2007-09 Global Financial Crisis using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The modelling included people who hold a mortgage or pay rent in private or public housing and are aged 45 or older.

This work found older women are more likely to be at risk of homelessness if they have one or more of the following characteristics:

• have been at risk before

• are not employed full-time

• are an immigrant from a non-English-speaking country

• are in private rental housing

• would have difficulty raising emergency funds

• are Indigenous

• are a lone-person household

• are a lone parent (but little evidence for those never married).

We estimated these profiles using a statistical model to analyse the relationship between homelessness risk and the characteristics of interest. We controlled for other characteristics that are likely to influence the risk of becoming homeless but which were not the focus of the study.

Risk factors compound each other

Multiple factors compound the risk of being homeless. While noting sampling limitations (small samples in subgroups of the data and annual volatility), the HILDA data for the post-GFC period suggest:

  • for women aged 55-64 in a private rental, about 28% are likely to be at risk

  • for women who are also not employed full-time the percentage at risk increases to about 34%

  • for those who are also a lone parent the risk rises to over 65%

  • the risk increases to over 85% if, in addition, they have experienced at least one prior occurrence of being at risk.

400,000 women over 45 are at risk of homelessness in Australia Data: HILDA Survey, Author provided Clearly, a person’s propensity to be at risk of homelessness is cumulative over time. Read more: More and more older Australians will be homeless unless we act now Why the numbers at risk will grow Our estimates of the numbers of people at risk are accurate to within plus or minus 10%. Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics population projections, it is clear that, without changes to policy, these numbers are likely to increase due to one important factor. The model shows a lone-person household is a dominant factor in increasing the likely risk of homelessness. Lone-person households are expected to comprise 24-27% of all households by 2041. This equates to between 3.0 and 3.5 million Australians (of all ages). Female lone-person households are projected to increase by between 27.6% and 58.8% (ABS 2019b). Australia has made little policy progress on housing affordability. We also have a severe shortage of social housing to meet demand. This points to the need to pursue other avenues to improve the lives of older low-income households. Read more: What do single, older women want? Their 'own little space' (and garden) to call home, for a start The Ageing on the Edge Older Persons Homelessness Prevention Project – funded by the JO and JR Wicking Trust and administered by Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) – has worked over the past five years to give voice to these older women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The project works with interested agencies (government and non-government) to identify and promote early intervention and prevention strategies and to lobby for government policy change. Of course, there is one simple answer to achieving long-term outcomes that allow people the basics of a decent older age: an appropriate affordable home.

Authors: Debbie Faulkner, Senior Research Fellow, UniSA Business, University of South Australia

Read more https://theconversation.com/400-000-women-over-45-are-at-risk-of-homelessness-in-australia-142906

Writers Wanted

The Conversation launches 2020: The Year That Changed Us

arrow_forward

Who will Muslim Americans vote for in the US elections?

arrow_forward

What is Family Law?

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

Why Your Small Business Should Bulk Buy Hand Sanitiser

As a small business owner, employee and customer safety is at the very top of your priority list. From risk assessments to health and safety officers, appropriate signage and proper briefing...

News Co - avatar News Co

How Phone Number Search In Sydney Can Help Your Business

To run a successful business, keeping track of your company and competitors are the major factors. With a lot of tools, available businesses have options to stay current. One way in which busine...

News Co - avatar News Co

Guide to Shipping Container Hire

If you are thinking of hiring a shipping container rather than purchasing one, there are many great reasons to do so. It is a more affordable option and when you are done using it for what you neede...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion