Portrait of two happy senior women having tea together out in the garden
Portrait of two happy senior women having tea together out in the garden shapecharge

Housing Option for older women

 

SHARE accommodation is not a consolation prize.

However, Sundale's Housing and Community Engagement manager Gail Middleton said a there would have be a shift in mindsets for many people to accept this premise.

But if you could take the leaps and make the mindshift, you were opening yourself to the positive benefits including companionship, affordability and peace of mind

"it can free up your life," she said.

"If you need to go away, there is someone to look after the house or pets."

"And shared living space can reduce the cost of living, for instance, electricity bills and free you up to enjoy other things.

Share accommodation is one of the living options being put on the table for Australia's fastest growing homeless demographic - single women over 55 years old. Research has shown that factors including lifetime pay disparity, intermittent employment due to family care-giving, divorce and rising home costs have contributed to statistics that show that, today, one out of four homeless is the single over 55-year-old woman.

One pilot program, launched last month, the Better Together Housing (BTH) has been designed to address the problem through shared accommodation.

The programme facilitated by two leading Sunshine Coast charities - Sundale (a local service provider in aged care) and Coast2Bay Housing Group (an independent, not-for-profit company focused on affordable housing) has been underpinned by a $100,000 grant from the State Government.

Gail Middleton has led the research and program development. She said that BTH is an online platform for participants to find someone to share with, it does not provide housing, but it does link women together who are interested in sharing accommodation.

At first glance, the model may seem like the Flatemates.com site. Both organisations provide a website where homeowners looking for tenants and prospective tenants can register their interests. However, this is where the online platforms part. Bettertogetherhousing.com.au is tailored towards senior women finding safe and secure accommodation and towards that end all participants must undergo extensive reference and police checks before their profiles are published on the website. Additionally, those sharing their homes will be required to offer similar security of tenure to those of the private rental system.

Together with these checks, facilitators will be available, if needed, to negotiate relationships.

But, the people sharing are not carers.

"It might be a decision how you help each other with a car to the shops, or pet mind," she said.

"We encourage people to have open conversations."

Ultimately, the program has developed a matching framework and support services with the aim of assisting would-be sharers to find the right person to share a home and maintain a healthy living arrangement. The program has also pioneered a rental tenancy agreement that outlines obligations and provides security for all sharers. This helps takes the perceived risks out of sharing a home, whether you are the homeowner or tenant.

The program has been developed information from focus groups and with guidance from legal experts.

For more information, go to: http://bettertogetherhousing.com.au/

 

 


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