ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has highlighted the growing housing issues prevalent among older people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to this, older people in short-term accommodation are being asked to relocate, despite the fact that many do not have access to suitable accommodation. Now more than ever, ALONE are appealing for reformation to the supports enabling older people to stay in their homes for as long as possible.
ALONE have received a substantial number of calls in recent months from older people who are struggling to keep themselves supported in their own homes. This relates to a lack of sufficient grants enabling them to make modifications to their homes, the access and opportunity to acquire a suitable home and enhanced homecare packages to meet their needs. While ALONE welcome the Cabinet approving the extension to the temporary eviction ban and a freeze on rent increases yesterday, they have seen a stark increase in calls from older people who are living in inadequate housing conditions, in unstable accommodation, or who are living in the knowledge that they have notices to quit their rented accommodation.
ALONE are asking for long term measures to be addressed now and not to push them further down the line. ALONE have received reports of people over the age of 65 being given no other option but to sleep in cars, homeless shelters and other unfit accommodation that they manage to obtain.
ALONE CEO, Seán Moynihan said, “Once again, older people are feeling the brunt of the pandemic in the form of housing difficulties and access to social housing. We have called for a ‘spectrum of housing’ that not only takes into consideration the needs of older people from a health, community and social inclusion perspective, but also shows an awareness of the need for different price points. The pandemic has brought much scrutiny to the model of the nursing homes within Ireland and further afield. We would like to see a reduction to numbers of older people who need to shift to a costly nursing home setting due to lack of alternative housing with supports.”
He continued, “Housing challenges are incredibly difficult at any age, but particularly so for older people and those who are already vulnerable. This year we have worked with increasing numbers of older people who have found themselves with nowhere to go. While we welcome the extension to the rent freeze and eviction ban introduced by the Cabinet yesterday, we need to ensure that we are safeguarding our older people ahead of time and making immediate and appropriate plans. ALONE has historically provided safe, long term tenancies for those most in need and least able to secure the same independently.”
The organisation has previously called on the Government to provide additional supports to older people experiencing housing difficulties through their Housing Choices for Older People in Ireland report published in 2018. The organisation is concerned by the growing number of people over 65, as Ireland’s ageing population is projected to grow substantially over the next ten years. Older people are finding themselves living in properties that are unsuitable or unsecure, and has highlighted the fact that often the experiences of older people are forgotten in the narrative of the housing crisis.
ALONE have asked for €84.5m a year over the next 10 years, in the form of home adaptation grants (via the Housing Aid for Older People Scheme) to assist older people to upgrade existing homes to age-friendly standards. These also need to be timely and easier to access as a reflection of the current pandemic, fewer people have been and will be going into nursing homes.
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.