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The ageing population and homelessness in Australia

What Is The Policy For Addressing Homelessness In Canada?

In Australia, 70 percent of the older population who are dependent on ACHA (Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged) and are victims of homelessness (Wood and Ong, 2017).  Private rental marketing has been associated with increased numbered of homelessness for the aged community. According to Petersen et al. (2014), the aged population facing household crisis for the first time are the worst hit as they are unaware of the means to approach the homelessness and elderly care sectors. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the older generation of Australia is rising and  expected to double by the end of 2057 (Older Australia at a glance, Demographics of older Australians - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018). This increase in the ageing of the Australian population can be attributed to the rise in life expectancy. 3.7 million Population in Australia is aged which makes up around 15 percent of the population (Duncan et al., 2014).

The ageing of the population structure of Australia is replete with challenges as well as welfare sectors in Australia (Peterson, 2015). Homelessness is an ageing policy issue and it is projected that the ratio of people working and supporting the aged will decrease significantly.  For example, the projection by (Beer, 2012), indicates that by the year 2056 there will be three working individuals for every elderly persons; whereas in the year 2007 there were 5 working-age persons for every elderly person. The increase in ageing population worldwide presents with weighty economic and fiscal concerns. The Australian Treasury has identified an increasingly ageing population as major factor driving the forecast reducing the economic growth as a result of reduced labor as suggested by (Wilkins, 2017; Peterson, 2015).

According to Petersen et al. (2014), in Australia, 95% of the housing is under private ownership. Therefore, housing stock and housing pricing is mostly dictated by the private sector: whereas, the social rental housing only account for 5% of the housing sector as suggested by (Yates and Bradbury, 2010). Consequently, the prices of the houses and rental paid by the tenants is dependent on the market trends. Older households who were not able to access home ownership when they were younger are more likely to face high housing costs in their retirement than older households who are homeowners and, as a result, are more likely to have inadequate levels of income to meet their non-housing needs (Yates and Bradbury, 2010).

Private ownership and affordable housing challenges in Australia

In Australia, more than half of the aged population are found to be disabled and three-quarter of the aged population have reported to experience good health. According to Arman et al. (2007), in Australia 76 per cent of the aged population have their own home. According to Morris et al. (2012), there was a surge in the house prices between 1995 to 2005 in Australia. There was a 6 per cent rise an average rise of 15 percent between 2001 and 2003. Affordable, accessible housing is crucial for older people to age in place. Older people renting privately are unable to sustain market rates of rent whilst reliant on the fixed low income of the aged pension. According to Petersen et al. (2014), the policies preventing tenants from making modifications to the properties is a major hindrance to the reduction in number of persons without homes and it is only serving the interest of private rental sector.

There is limited information on the number of older individuals without stable homes and lack of their age distribution in the Australian population. At the same time, the life course perspective has not been well studied and documented and its application on realization main pathways resulting to homelessness, particularly risk factors and cause events, and their prevalence across the life course. Most researchers have focused on gender and without putting into considerations their ethnicity. Furthermore, the study have not considered the impact of multiple marginalized categories on older homeless adult’s experiences and challenges faced which is very necessary.

The findings from this study will provide more information on the experiences and challenges of the aged population who have availed the benefits of affordable housing. Hence, such information will be of benefit to the government agencies when formulating intervention policies around older homelessness. The findings from the interview with entrepreneurs will be enriching for understanding the scenario of affordable housing in Australia.

The aim of this study is to understand the trend of affordable housing for the aged in Australia. It also intends to document the experiences of the aged population who have availed the benefits of affordable housing and investigate their lived experiences. The interview with entrepreneurs is believed to be enriching for understanding the scenario of affordable housing in Australia.

To assess the challenges which older individuals face around housing security and whether any factors are common among women and men which may contribute to a lack of housing security.

Types and definitions of homelessness

  1. To determine factors associated with affordable housing for the aged community
  2. To determine challenges and experiences faced by the older homeless around accessing housing security
  3. To assess the factors that contribute to lack of housing security among the older homeless.

According to the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (2012), homelessness is defined as a situation of a family without stable, permanent appropriate housing. Management homelessness can be identified by four living circumstances including Unsheltered individuals living in the street or in places that are not fit for human tenancy; Individuals under emergency settlement referring to persons occupying overnight shelters for persons who are without homes this include also individuals who are affected by family violence; Individuals settled under provisional accommodation these are persons who lack security of tenure and are temporarily settled; lastly persons at risk of homelessness these are individuals whose housing situation doesn’t meet public health and safety standards as suggested by (Grenier, 2016). According to Mott et al. (2012), the typical homelessness if characterized by someone living in the streets or in government shelters, therefore it is difficult to identify individuals living in provisional shelters and the persons at-risk because such persons may fail to use services as shelters which are mostly associated to homelessness.

Researchers have clearly defined different types of homelessness including transitional, temporary, episodic, and chronic homelessness as suggested by (Culhane and Metraux, 2008; Echenberg and Jensen, 2008).In fact, persons who are without home s for three months have been categorized as chronic homelessness as suggested by  (Gonyea, 2010), whereas other researchers defines individuals categorized as chronic homelessness as persons who are continually without homes for more than a year (McDonald et al., 2009). Individuals in the category of chronic homelessness are known to use shelters as means of housing, rather than emergency services (Cloke and May, 2005). Individuals considered to be chronically homeless are mostly older, insistently out of employment, and are associated with substance abuse. At the same time, temporary and episodic individuals are mostly younger individuals as suggested by (Mott, 2012).

Research findings have revealed a sharp increase in the number of older persons who are homeless. However, different paths taken by individuals life and health status of persons make it difficult to clearly define what constitutes older homeless population (Grenier et al., 2013), In most cases 65 years have been accepted as a marker of old age, it is at this point that life of homelessness can be of great concern (Morrison, 2009; Ploeg et al., 2008). According to Marek (2017), the older individuals living in the streets have higher mortality rates as compared to the general population. Aging has been defined as a process that occurs in life and it is related to institutional structures, experiences as suggested by (Grenier, 2013). According to a study conducted in Canada those over 55 years were considered as older individuals (Ploeg et al. 2008; Shinn et al., 2007). Therefore, researchers have suggested that persons with 50 years and above who are homeless be considered as homeless and aging (Grenier, 2013; McDonald et al., 2009 ; Ploeg et al. 2008).

Unique needs of older homeless individuals

According to Grenier (2016), both the young and older homeless persons have got shared needs that include stable housing, food, and proper health care and decent income. However, research findings have revealed that older homeless people have unique needs related to access to health care and social services (Morris et al., 2012). According to Marek (2017), individuals who have an advanced age and are homeless have high risk of developing mental health problems. Therefore, they require more specialized medical care beyond what can be provided by the shelters as suggested by (Minnery and Greenhalgh, 2007). Being homeless at an advanced age has been revealed to be quite challenging making provision of housing for the elderly an urgent thing (Grenier, 2013). Stigmatization and discrimination of older homeless individuals have been reported in healthcare facilities, hence, the need for sensitization of medicals staff on the issues around older homeless persons (Morris et al., 2012; Lipmann, 2009;).At the same time, researchers have revealed that older homeless persons in some instances fails to access housing and support services due to difficulties in navigating government services (Ploeg et al., 2008). For example, in Canada, Concerns have been raised about the appropriateness of services that are accessible for the older homeless people (McDonald et al., 2009).

The term methodology refers to the ways in which a research should proceed (Carter and Little, 2007). Methodologies are inspired from epistemology and are replete with epistemic knowledge. The objective of my research question is compatible with the qualitative research design. In health studies, qualitative research has found a prominent position as it places importance on the context rather embarking on with a pre-determined hypothesis.

A qualitative research design will be used in this study. This will be achieved through getting information from study participants using unstructured questionnaire and also carrying out Interview with the entrepreneurs of the elderly care homes who provide affordable housing for the poor. According to Hoe et al. (2009), qualitative research design can be adopted when trying to offer clarification about social phenomena and with an objective to create understanding the social world in which we live and why things are the way they are.  Furthermore, this design is more crucial in situations where the researcher is looking solutions to research  questions that are related to the situations such as exploration views, real-life context and sensitive topics where flexibility is needed.

The study participants will be purposively selected. I purport to conduct an ethnography among the aged population who have availed the benefit of affordable housing. I will have an unstructured questionnaire that would allow me to inquire about their lives and the benefits reaped through the affordable housing policies. I will also have a qualitative interview with 15 men and 15 women to study the relationship between affordable housing and the aged. Finally, I will interview the entrepreneurs who are involved in providing affordable housing.

Qualitative research design

Unstructured questionnaire and interview notes and tape recording will be used.

I propose to use thematic analysis to identify a common issue that recurs from the interview and finally identifies the main theme that summarizes all the participant’s view. The data recorded in the questionnaire will be decoded and entered into excel sheet and exported to SPSS where different variables will be analyzed.

Each study participant will be informed of their right not to answer any question and to discontinue the interview at any stage. The older homeless study participants will be voluntarily required to sign a consent form indicating their willingness to voluntarily participate in the study. All the information received from the participants will be treated with confidentiality. All the recorded interviews will be transcribed and de-identified later after collecting the responses from the participants for each question.   


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