The almost homeless

Single older women with no place to call home

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  • Published 20200505
  • ISBN: 9781922268761
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

MARG’S NORTH BRISBANE townhouse looks innocuous from the outside. But when she ushers me inside, the chaos of her interior world becomes evident. Boxes and baskets overflow with clothes, paper, fabric and books. They line the corridor, mass on kitchen benches, cover the dining table and fringe the two sofas in the living room. Marg describes her home as ‘disorganised’, which she explains as a ‘downside of depression, unemployment and housing instability’. Newstart payments leave her with $11.70 a fortnight to live on after paying $690 in rent. ‘If my sons weren’t helping me, I think I would have become homeless by now,’ she says.

Fifty-five-year-old Marg is part of a growing cohort of single women over fifty who encounter housing instability for the first time later in life. They are women who held jobs and cared for children and sometimes parents; most had married or partnered. They had rented – and often owned – a home. However, after a lifetime of gender-based discrimination, events such as a health problem, a relationship breakdown or loss of a job can lead to the brink of homelessness.

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About the author

Therese Hall

Therese Hall is a journalist and editor. This essay draws on research undertaken for a master’s of research (anthropology) thesis – Single older women with...

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