In February 2018 there were 119 people aged over 65 living in emergency homeless accommodation, up over 40% in just two years. Outreach services reported up to 10 older people who are vulnerable to sleeping rough. Every man, woman and child should have a place they can call home, and the housing and homeless crisis is hitting vulnerable people throughout our society. But to see older people finding themselves without a home at that particularly vulnerable stage of life must be one of the most shocking aspects of the crisis that faces us.
The scale of the homeless crisis can sometimes seem overwhelming, and the Government has completely abandoned targets for ending any aspect of the problem. But the scale of homelessness among our older people is small enough – and the impact of it is so damaging – that it should be a realistic priority for the Government to eliminate homelessness for older people.
In the Dublin region the number of people over the age of 65 recorded in Section 10 funded emergency accommodations has increased from 17 in January 2015 to 63 in December 2017. In the rest of Ireland the number recorded in January 2015 was 54 which had increased by only 4 people to 58 in December 2017. However while the trend in the Dublin region has been steadily upward, the trend in the rest of Ireland shows a fall to a low of 37 people recorded in November 2016, followed by a rise towards the previous level. (see table 2 below).
The causes of homelessness among older people have not been specifically researched, but they are likely to be, in many cases, similar to the causes for everyone else
Analysis by Alone shows that people living in private rented accommodation are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, even where their accommodation seemed secure while they were of (traditional) working age. Many older people are forced to continue in the workforce simply to afford high private rents.
Adopting the target of eliminating homelessness among older people should be followed by a series of specific actions: