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The Boarding House Project Update

By 10/04/2024April 15th, 2024No Comments

On Census night in 2021, it was found that almost 20,000 people aged 55 years and over were experiencing homelessness, representing one in seven people experiencing homelessness at the time. The Australian Bureau of Statistics used six operational groups to present estimates of people experiencing homelessness, these included:

  1. People living in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out; 
  2. People living in supported accommodation for the homeless;  
  3. People staying temporarily with other households;  
  4. People in other temporary lodgings; 
  5. People in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings; and  
  6. People living in boarding houses.   

Of the 122,194 people experiencing homelessness in Australia in 2021, one in six were living in boarding houses. A 26.5% increase of people living in boarding houses was recorded between 2016 and 2021.  

As the amount of older people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness continues to rise, it is critical that support is provided to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and, just as importantly, strategies are developed to address the issues. Additionally, the recent Official Community Visitor Scheme Annual Report revealed that assisted boarding houses had the lowest proportion of issues resolved compared to disability supported accommodation and residential Out Of Home Care services. 

Our ‘Supported Accommodation’ solicitors are empowered to provide advice to those living in aged care facilities, retirement villages and boarding houses. However few, if any, enquiries relate to boarding houses. It may be that many aren’t aware of their rights and/or people are unaware of our services in this area.

The Boarding House Project has been developed to increase engagement with older people living in boarding houses by providing advice, representation and advocacy services including conducting legal health checks amongst boarding house residents.

The project conducts research and engages with relevant stakeholders to collate data necessary to determine the issues being faced by older people living in boarding houses across NSW. Based on our findings, we are creating resources for community legal education and developing methods to empower older people living in boarding houses to assert their rights and address issues they are facing. 

We initially created information aimed at raising awareness around what it means to live in a boarding house, informing residents on their basic rights and inviting them to contact us for advice in exercising their rights. Advertisements were included in community magazines such as The Big Issue and Inner Sydney Voice and flyers were distributed to relevant organisations such as the Older Women’s Network, Inner West Meals on Wheels, Addi Road Food Pantry, local neighbourhood centres and community legal centres. Additionally Redfern Legal Centre have agreed to refer cases relating to boarding houses to  Seniors Rights Service where possible to allow us to collect more data for the project

Project lead Lamya has been active in the community attending events and engaging directly with boarding house residents and organisations who are also working to support those living in boarding houses or otherwise homeless such as The Footpath Library (who provide free books, reading glasses, coffee, tea and biscuits), The Maronites on Mission (who provide free meals) and Will 2 Live (who provide free meals, drinks and music).

Lamya attends Newtown Neighbourhood Centre’s One Stop Shop fortnightly alongside essential services such as Centrelink and is working with the Boarding House Outreach Team to provide community legal information to boarding house owners and operators in addition to cross referrals to available services.

Further outreach is planned with Kirketon Road Centre, Wayside Chapel, Redfern Community Centre and more.  

If you know of any locations or organisations that may benefit from The Boarding House Project please call us on 02 9281 3600 or 1800 424 079 and press 2 for the Legal Team or email us:

This research will allow us to identify prevalent issues facing boarding house residents and tailor specific community legal education resources that are relevant, accessible and understandable.

Increasing engagement with older people living in boarding houses by providing advice, representation and advocacy services.

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