Shepparton News

New Home at Last service

HOUSING FOR THE AGED ACTION GROUP HELPING OLDER PEOPLE ACROSS THE REGION AT RISK OF HOMELESSNE­SS

- By Max Stainkamph

A new housing service aimed at helping older people at risk of homelessne­ss has launched in the Goulburn Valley.

Housing for the Aged Action Group provides advice on housing options and helps connect people at risk across Moira, Shepparton, Strathbogi­e, Murrindind­i and Mitchell shires.

HAAG runs the Home at Last service and helps provide informatio­n about affordable housing options, support for people at risk of homelessne­ss to obtain social housing, advice and advocacy for people in retirement homes and assistance navigating the aged care support system.

Executive officer Fiona York said HAAG was trying to help people who couldn’t afford rent or who were staying with friends and family.

‘‘We want to get to people before they’re sleeping in their cars,’’ she said.

Ms York said HAAG strived to intervene before the need for crisis accommodat­ion.

‘‘We don’t want them in hotels or something short-term if we can help it, especially for older women — it’s often not appropriat­e for them,’’ she said.

Ms York said older women didn’t recognise the risk of homelessne­ss, and were often more at risk.

‘‘They’ve managed on their own for their whole lives and they often don’t ask for help until they’re in dire straits,’’ she said.

‘‘Many people don’t recognise that they are at risk and don’t know where to turn for help.’’

Older women have been some of the hardest hit by the economic impact of coronaviru­s, often in insecure work or the first forced out the door when companies cut staff.

Ms York said older people often had trouble accessing services.

She said the expansion to the Goulburn Valley was an area HAAG had wanted to target for some time.

‘‘The demographi­c, trends and number of people struggling, all those things point to a real homelessne­ss crisis in the region,’’ she said.

HAAG will fit in with existing service providers in the region, with local staff based in and around Shepparton.

She urged anyone who felt they might be at risk, or knew someone who was, to get in contact.

The new service has been operating less than a month and could be contacted on 1300 765 178 or intake@oldertenan­ts.org.au

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