An increasing number of older women are becoming homeless in Western Australia, according to a new study. A lack of affordable housing is the primary reason for the increase in numbers, say researchers at the University of Western Australia. Changes in life expectancy, divorce and separation rates and the death of a partner also contributed to older women becoming homeless. While accurate statistics are hard to come by, many older women are at risk and teeter on the brink of homelessness, says one of the study’s lead authors, Professor Eileen Webb. “We are seeing a lot of women nearing retirement age who are experiencing increasing difficulty in finding affordable and secure housing,” she said. “If there is insufficient superannuation, a partner dies or something goes wrong financially, women are finding themselves in very dire circumstances. “The private rental market is too expensive, there is a lengthy wait for public housing and emergency accommodation, such as a boarding house, is often unsuitable for women.” Older women financially vulnerable She says as women often live longer than their partners, they can become financially vulnerable. “There’s also a growing gap of course between pension incomes and rents, and so this is increasing the number of people who are being exposed to the risk of homelessness,” Professor Webb said. She says one of the most surprising findings was the role of wage inequality between the genders. “While women are earning much less than men doing the same job their superannuation isn’t accumulating at the same rate because they’re earning less money,” she said.
In other states, and in some other overseas countries, what we’ve seen is share-housing arrangements and that in many cases works very, very well . Professor Eileen Webb…(continues)
SOURCE: “More older women becoming homeless in WA, study finds”, ABC.net.au, 25 March 2014
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