Did you know that older people from culturally diverse backgrounds are at significant risk of becoming homeless?
Not-for-profit organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH), Knox City Council and Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) have joined forces to host a forum on April 14 in Wantirna South to help raise awareness of this issue and support older people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities to find secure, affordable housing.
Iboja Farkash, 57, is among a growing number of older people who have faced barriers trying to access secure housing.
Without support from VMCH, Iboja believes she may be living on the streets.
After migrating from Hungary in her early 20s, Iboja built a successful wedding dress business, married and owned a house in Ferntree Gully.
Then, around two years ago, she lost her business and was forced to sell her home to clear financial debts.
What followed was a dark time of uncertainty and instability with Iboja forced to move home ten times in ten years thanks to failed promises from real estate agents of long-term leases.
The constant house moves, compounded by long-term health and emotional issues, had Iboja – now also divorced – feeling “hopeless and alone”.
Iboja found support through VMCH’s Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA)* program and VMCH Case Manager Amy Yuen.
“Amy helped me through the whole rental process and to find a new house with a long-term lease several months ago. Now I feel safe and secure and can get on with my life. I’m grateful, happy and this has really given me hope to go on.”
Iboja will share her story at the upcoming forum in an effort to “give back and let others know that it is possible to get a home for life”.
April Bragg, Manager of HAAG, says Iboja’s story is common.
“Older renters from CALD backgrounds often experience discrimination and hardship in the private rental market due to language barriers, a lack of knowledge of Australian housing systems and poorer overall socioeconomic status compared to the older Anglo-Australian population,” April said.
“This puts them at significant risk of becoming homeless.”
She added the climate of the current property market didn’t help matters.
“Along with lower rates of home ownership and reductions in the supply of public housing, the private rental market is becoming the main housing option available for people on low incomes. However, private rental housing is highly insecure, unaffordable and unadaptable for people as they age.”
City of Knox Mayor, Tony Holland, said homelessness was a community issue that required many types of organisations and individuals to be involved.
“As an important provider of community services, the City of Knox is pleased to be part of this forum. We hope the forum raises more than just awareness. We want people from the community with good ideas to come forward and be part of the process of tackling this important social problem,” he said.
“Like many areas, Knox has an ageing population. Older people make significant contributions to our community and it’s important that the entire community works together to help them as they get older and potentially more vulnerable.”
The forum is open to anyone interested in the topic and will run from 10am to 12.30pm at Knox City Council’s Civic Centre, Room 3 and 4, 511 Burwood Hwy, Wantirna South.
Details: Amy Yuen on 1300 971 720.
Thank you to our supporting agencies: ANCHOR, DHS-Centrelink, Ringwood, Eastern Community Legal Centre, Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Melbourne), Seniors Rights Victoria, ECCV, UnitingCare Harrison, Wesley Mission Victoria, Yarra Ranges Council, Maroondah City Council and COTA Victoria.
*Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit the Department of Social Services website (www.dss.gov.au) for more information.