Hundreds of elderly people could end up in homeless hubs within 5 years, says charity

Alone says some older people will be spending Christmas in B&Bs and insecure forms of accommodation

Friends of the Elderly have hosted a Christmas party at their Bolton Street headquarters in Dublin for 70 older people who live nearby. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Hundreds of older people could end up in homeless hubs within five years if measures are not taken to regulate rent increases and protect the housing rights of our ageing population, the national charity for older people in Ireland has warned.

The Alone organisation is calling for more action to support the hundreds of people aged 70 or more who will be forced to spend Christmas in emergency accommodation or worrying about eviction notices on their homes.

More than 250 older people are currently on the Alone housing waiting list while increasing numbers of people in their 70s and 80s have nowhere to go after receiving notices to quit their rented accommodation, chief executive of the charity Seán Moynihan said on Sunday.

“Some of the older people we work with will be spending Christmas and new year in B&Bs and insecure forms of accommodation,” he said, adding that many more were opting to sleep on friends’ couches or in inappropriate conditions because they are afraid to use hostels or other emergency options.

“We believe that unless urgent action is taken the housing crisis for older people will get worse in the years to come, as more and more of us rent for longer rather than buying property. Will we see homeless hubs for older people in the years to come?”

“We’re an aging population. With the rising cost of rent the danger is in five years time we will end up with homeless hubs for older people.”

‘Often forgotten’

In 2019 the charity dealt with 1,700 cases where they provided support to older people facing eviction or living in poor conditions. Mr Moynihan underlined that while Alone is not a housing agency the organisation’s 2,000 volunteers are increasingly spending time providing support to those facing housing issues.

According to the recently released 2018 Summary of Social Housing, the number of people aged 70 or older applying for social housing rose by nearly 10 per cent in one year compared to a drop of nearly 10 per cent among people in their 20s and a drop of 7.4 per cent for those in their thirties. Applications from people in their 60s also rose by 2.6 per cent.

“Receiving a notice to quit when you are younger is extremely difficult, but this challenge is compounded when we reach our 70s and 80s, and especially so during the winter months,” said Mr Moynihan. “In the 60s and 70s older people lived in the poorest conditions because when they retired they didn’t have the ability to mind themselves,” he said. “We really don’t want to go back there.”

“This Christmas we want to ensure that people are aware of the impact the housing crisis is having on older people,” he said. “The experiences of older people are often forgotten in the narrative of the housing crisis, but people of all ages deserve a home at Christmas time.”

Anyone with concerns for themselves or an older person they know can contact Alone on 0818 222 024