An Anglican Care partnership may help reduce one of the most rapidly growing groups of homeless people in the state.

In 2022, a parliamentary inquiry found the face of homelessness in NSW was an older person aged over 55 – particularly women.

This was largely due to rising rents, domestic violence and cost of living spikes, together with lower savings and superannuation.

A report, released by Anglicare last year, also showed older, single women aged over 55 were eight times more likely to be homeless.

An initiative called the Housing for Older Persons Project (HOPP) – formed by the Hunter Ageing Alliance – aims to address homelessness amongst the mature-aged population without relying on government intervention.

Dr John Ward, a Hunter-based geriatrician, was named 2024 NSW Senior Australian of the Year for his work to create age-friendly communities and reduce social isolation for older people.

He says HOPP has several goals, including increasing the range of housing options in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

“One of our projects involves Anglican Care,” Dr Ward says.

“We just recently got approval to start looking at the vacant Greenmount Gardens residential aged care facility and some other places to support the most rapidly growing group of homeless people, which is women over 55.

“A couple of churches have also offered land to develop and we’re trying to establish Hunter Homeshare.

“Older people who have a home and spare bedroom can offer it to someone who needs accommodation, and, in exchange, they provide support and some security and assistance.

“A generous benefactor has given us enough money to get going for a year. At the moment, we’re trying to determine a suitable NGO to assist with this project.”

Dr Ward, who co-founded the Hunter Ageing Alliance, currently serves on the Care Governance Committee for Anglican Care.

He says the role came about almost by accident.

“The then manager of Anglican Community Services asked me to chair their new committee. I was a big fan of hers. She’s one of those ladies who whatever she asks you to do, you do,” Dr Ward says.

“When Anglican Care amalgamated with Samaritans, I realised there weren’t too many other people who had aged care experience, so I kept going.

“I still do a lot of my work with Anglican Care facilities, and I know them fairly well.”

Apart from HOPP, the Hunter Ageing Alliance is working on eight key strategies to help transform the region into age-friendly cities.

They include accessible information, housing, healthcare, social isolation, environment, elder abuse, support towards end of life, and end of life care.

Read more stories like this in our new edition of Encounter | Our People.

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