Oct 23, 2023

Aged care provider combats homelessness with affordable housing for women over 55

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A Sydney not-for-profit aged care service provider is offering affordable accommodation for women over 55 facing homelessness. [Source: Supplied]

A not-for-profit aged care provider in Sydney has extended its support to women at risk of or experiencing homelessness, partnering with the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter to provide affordable housing to women over 55 in its retirement villages. 

Women over 55 are among the fastest-growing demographic to experience homelessness in Australia, with over 7,000 reported to be homeless in the 2021 Census. Increasing house prices and rents are likely to have driven that number up further since then.

Key points

  • According to the 2021 Census, 44.1% of people experiencing homelessness are female, which is an increase of 10% since 2016.
  • An additional 6,000 people were also estimated to be homeless in 2021, when compared to 2016, with women representing 80% of that increase
  • James Milson Village has partnered with the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter to provide affordable housing in Australia’s most expensive city
  • The median house price is $1.3 million in the Harbour City and the median unit price is $817,000.

There are several systemic and compounding factors that cause older women to be among the most vulnerable to homelessness. A lack of superannuation, insecure or inconsistent work during their lifetime, age and gender discrimination can all have a heavy influence on triggering homelessness.

The sudden onset of serious health concerns, the end of a relationship or the impact of leaving domestic and family violence are also strong contributing factors. Many older women who experience homelessness or insecure housing are also experiencing it for the first time.

For these reasons and more, James Milson Village (JMV) established a partnership with the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter (NBWS) in March to address the critical need for affordable housing and stability. 

As a well-established retirement living and aged care provider with five decades of experience, they were in a strong position to offer low-cost housing in North Sydney.

“James Milson Village is honoured to partner with Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter to extend housing assistance to those who need it most. Hearing firsthand from the residents that this partnership has been lifesaving for them underscores the immeasurable value of such collaborations,” explained Bradley Williams, JMV Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 

The collaboration has already achieved considerable success thanks to the support of NBWS who provides support plans to help women, aged over 55, to integrate into their new community. Having initially started out as a trial program, the ongoing partnership is set to continue over the coming years to ensure at-risk women have access to affordable housing.

Feedback has been wholly positive from those who have found a home within North Sydney, providing the safety and security that we all deserve.

“For the first time in many years, I feel safe in my home. I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded people, reminiscent of my younger years. My home is now my sanctuary, and I haven’t felt this happy and fulfilled since my early twenties in college,” expressed one new resident.

“Now I feel like I’m taking better care of my health and that I’m an integral part of a community,” added another.

With house and rental prices on the rise in Australia, initiatives like this are having a positive impact on the lives of many women who find themselves in a first-time situation with homelessness. 

The positive feedback is one reason why the partnership will continue with both organisations interested in exploring more opportunities to support older women in the community.

“Working with James Milson Village has been an excellent experience. Effective communication and robust support have been integral to our success,” expressed Robyn, a Support Services Coordinator at NBWS.

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