Before Michael (pictured) came to Anglicare’s Thurles Castle, he was couch surfing and living on the streets. He lost his job in his late 50s and found it difficult to find employment. Now 60, he is living on Newstart Allowance and will not be eligible for the pension until he is over 65 years old.
“I have spent time on the trains and slept on the streets. The hardest thing about living on the street is how dangerous it feels at night. You don’t feel safe at all. So you stay awake as much as possible and try and sleep during the day,” explains Michael.
“I found accommodation at Thurles Castle two and a half years ago and I just love the place. You can be by yourself or mix with others. You also have access to your own amenities. It would make it so much easier for people if more accommodation like Thurles existed.”
Our research has found almost 1 in 10 people aged 55 years and over supported through Anglicare’s Emergency Relief program are experiencing insecure housing. They are sleeping rough, in tents, couch surfing and using their family car as a form of shelter. With high rents and not enough social housing stock, the frail aged, already marginalised by poverty and failing health, are bearing the brunt of Sydney’s housing crisis.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), of the estimated 256,000 people assisted by Specialist Homelessness Services in 2014–2015 more than 18,000 were older than 55.
As well as single older women, people between the ages of 60 to 65 are a group of particular concern. Often they will be deemed too old to work, but have yet to reach pension age so are forced onto Newstart Allowance.
Anglicare has raised funds for specialist housing for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and will expand our services to provide more accommodation to people who are in similar situations across Sydney.