Older women ‘housing losers’

Single older women are finding it increasingly tough to find affordable housing, according to Victoria’s Housing Minister.

“A lot of women in the 55-plus age bracket find themselves alone,” Wendy Lovell said in Wangaratta yesterday.

“They often find themselves with a family that moves on.

“And when a marriage breaks down, they don’t have a lot of superannuation if they haven’t been working.”

She said that was why the government had joined privately owned Harlea Properties and Common Equity Housing to provide 35 aged-care units in Harrison Street, Wangaratta.

Harlea received incentives to rent the units to low-income earners aged over 55 after talks with Ms Lovell in May.

She said that although waiting lists had been cut almost 20 per cent since her government took office more than three years ago, older, single women were missing out more than others.

New tenant Jean Jones, 76, had been “couch surfing” with friends and family for two years since her partner died and she couldn’t afford to rent in Albury.

With her sight deteriorating, moving was increasingly difficult and she faced years of waiting for public housing.

“I felt lost and a bit degraded I had to ask people to stay,” Ms Jones said.

“I thought I would never get something.”

With the encouragement of her son, Ms Jones last month approached the department. She moved into her single-bedroom unit almost two weeks ago.

“I’m over the moon.This is a marvellous place and the people who have helped me are top notch,” she said.

Ms Lovell said the project showed how the community could take responsibility for affordable housing.

“Governments do what they can but there is limited capacity within our budget,” she said.

Daniel Teller, of Melbourne-based Harlea Properties, said his family had a history in helping the less fortunate.

“It has to be financially viable, but if we can make something work, why not try it,” he said.

The property had 81 units — 45 owned by Harlea and 35 of those involving incentives.

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