This week on Insight an all-female studio audience hears stories of the increasing number of older women living as homeless.
The number of women over 55 accessing support services for homelessness is increasing at faster rate than it is for men*.
This week, Insight looks at the rise of homelessness in older women in Australia. Many of these women have led ‘traditional’ lives – they’ve been employed most of their life, raised children, cared for ageing parents and paid taxes.
But a number of factors as they age such as health problems, work opportunities slowing and rents rising even on the outskirts of Australia’s cities, mean many women find themselves unable to afford a roof over their head.
Women in this age group are more likely to be the hidden homeless, not sleeping rough on the street, but house-sitting, couch-surfing, living in cars or moving between their friends’ and children’s homes.
Insight’s guests explain how it could happen to anyone.
Di Hill, 73, separated from her husband of 43 years in 2010 and has been renting ever since. She recently ran out of money and can’t afford rent on the pension. She says she has no choice but to use the last of her savings to buy an old campervan and now lives in her vehicle.
Christine Kent, 66, describes herself as a sane, middle-class, educated woman who has worked all her life. She says rent has risen to the point where it’s unaffordable so she’s been house-sitting and couch-surfing for the past five years. The constant moving has taken its toll and she’s desperate for affordable housing solutions for women in her age group.
Kath Reynders, 55, has been living in her car for two-and-a-half years after injuries prevented her from working, and says she often sleeps in cemeteries at night.
Tuesdays at 8.30pm on SBS.