The challenge of a rapidly ageing population with growing housing needs is a reality that calls for a response from our Baptist network of churches. The resurrection of Christ drives us to express that new life in offering hope to those who are struggling.
In launching Parity, Preventing Elderly Homelessness, a publication of the Council to Homeless Persons on 30 June, Parliamentary Secretary Senator Jacinta Collins said that Australians aged 55 and over comprised almost one in five homeless people. Speaking in Melbourne, she said, ‘With our rapidly ageing population, the number of older people who will find themselves homeless, or at risk of homelessness, is expected to rise over the next 10 years. Sadly, for too many older Australians, housing is out of reach. The latest edition of Parity will give Government, not for profit organisations and the community a better understanding of these issues’.
Federal Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib said that demand for social housing for older Australians was expected to double by 2028.
‘The Government is investing more than $20 billion in social and affordable housing measures,’ Minister Arbib said. ‘The $5.6 billion Social Housing Initiative will help low income Australians who are homeless or struggling in the private rental market. About 4000 new houses will be built as part of this project specifically for people over 55.’
Baptist Community Services – NSW & ACT has welcomed the opportunity to provide community housing through the National Rental Affordability Scheme, and through support from Housing NSW. BCS Community Housing provides appropriate and affordable housing for seniors through social and affordable housing options. Tenants are able to access support services that sustain accommodation, and are offered help in building strong connections with their local communities. Without the security that stable housing provides, it is very difficult to address other levels of need.
BCS is providing social housing options for eligible people on low incomes in purpose-built environmentally sustainable developments at Goulburn (BCS Clinton Place – 33 units) and Lismore (BCS Illowra Place – 26 units). BCS works with Housing NSW to deliver housing for eligible people who have met all the requirements and who have been placed on the Housing NSW waiting lists.
Alongside the Social Housing options, BCS Community Housing also offers a limited number of dwellings to people outside of the Housing NSW application process.
These affordable housing places in Goulburn and Lismore are offered to eligible seniors whose income makes them ineligible for social housing, but are still on low incomes and who meet the BCS assessment criteria. This assessment includes having a need to live in a specific area, usually for work or study.
BCS LifeCare staff value this opportunity to address the needs of older persons in regional communities who are struggling with homelessness or are at risk of being homeless.