After working hard for many years, in a job, raising children, or both, you want to know that you will be looked after. But for some women, the reality is very different. Many older women in Australia are finding themselves without the security they deserve. Some have lost bread-winning husbands through relationship breakdown or the death of a spouse. Others bear the impact of gendered work patterns and lower pay for women, retiring with less savings, less super and without owning their own home.
According to the St Vincent de Paul Society, close to 60 per cent of Australians seeking help from homelessness services are women, compared to 26 per cent in the UK and 38 per cent in the US. More than half of these women have been affected by domestic violence.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recorded a 44 per cent rise in the number of homeless older women seeking help since collection of these statistics began in 2011-12, with close to 10,000 older women accessing accommodation services in the last financial year.
What has gone wrong?
Increasing numbers of older women in Australia have never owned their own home, despite living ‘conventional’ lives, working and raising children. I look around at many of my friends who will never be able to afford to own homes, due to the astronomical prices houses are commanding now.
But paying private rents post-retirement is simply not tenable for many women. The National Shelter 2017 Rental Affordability Index, released recently, revealed that pensioners are among the hardest hit when it comes to the housing affordability crisis, with most spending more than 60 per cent of their income on accommodation.
What does the future hold for our ageing population? As the social safety net is eroded by government, I believe we have to start thinking out of the square and exploring unconventional housing and out-of-city housing options. The tiny house movement, gaining popularity around the globe has harnessed a desire to live more simply. Though the future can look grim, some of these new ways of viewing housing offer a glimmer of hope to the next generation of older women facing the housing affordability crisis.
The links below offer more information about this issue, and some out-of-the-box exciting and innovative affordable housing solutions;
Written by Marryanne