Archbishop supports calls for more affordable housing for seniors

Thursday 30 July, 2020

The need for secure, affordable housing has never been more important. VMCH has provided Affordable Homes for people aged 55 and over who are at risk of homelessness for decades.

We’ve found homes for pensioners who were forced to choose between buying medication or paying private rent, those who’ve suffered elder abuse at the hands of a relative, and people who’ve languished for more than 10 years on public housing waiting lists.

Offering affordable housing aligns with VMCH’s steadfast commitment to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, particularly the belief that every human being should live a dignified life.
This Homelessness Week (August 3-7), we’ve joined the Everybody’s Home campaign to help shine a light on the desperate need for more affordable and social housing, particularly for older people.

Rising unemployment and an unstable financial climate have thousands concerned about their future.

Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot 2020 found of 69,960 properties listed for rent across Australia, just 526 were affordable and suitable for a single person on the Aged Pension. It also found 660,000 people on the Aged Pension do not own their own home, and that ‘many people on government incomes are renting and living in severe housing stress’.

Without access to subsidised rent through VMCH affordable housing, resident Ita Holland (pictured) fears where she’d be.

‘I wouldn’t have been able to afford living in a private house on a pension,’ Ita said. ‘Rents are exorbitant if you’re a widow like me. I’d probably be living in public housing, which is very hard to get. VMCH is excellent. Here, I’m independent and I’m comfortable.’

VMCH Board Chairman Julien O’Connell AO says Ita’s plight without affordable housing as an option is worryingly common.

‘Older people have given so much to our society and deserve to live in comfort, with security and with dignity. We know our population is rapidly ageing, and this issue isn’t going away. There is a huge gap in housing for older people who are still very independent and many years away from entering residential aged care.’

VMCH currently supplies affordable homes to more than 400 older people, and offers practical and emotional support to around 100 Victorians through its Assistance with Care and Housing program.

‘While helpful, we realise this is just a drop in the ocean for what is needed,’ Julien said. ‘We are proud to be a campaign partner of Everybody’s Home; calling for the implementation of a National Housing Strategy to build another 500,000 social and affordable homes by 2026.’

Julien adds that as an agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, VMCH was grateful to have the support of Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli.

‘Our Mission as an organisation is to continue the caring ministry of Jesus Christ by creating choices, offering hospitality and building inclusive, compassionate and sustainable communities. Affordable homes are an important part of this.’

Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli agrees.

‘For those times when life’s circumstances are beyond our control; when we feel unsafe where we live; when there is instability with rental choices; when we need growing daily support; or when our families and livelihoods fall apart – we are vulnerable and in need. Being able to offer ways for a safe and dignified life is a critical factor in meeting those needs, and to respecting and recognising our personhood in Jesus Christ,’ Archbishop Peter said.

‘Who knows, tomorrow it could be any one of us that may need a lifeline. We all deserve a place to call home.’
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