Rental shortage leaving older women couch surfing

YOU may not often think of elderly women couch surfing; dossing down in the lounge rooms of friends because they haven't got stable accommodation.

But that is the reality for some and is one of the issues a new group called Northern Rivers Older Women Lifestyle Solutions (NR OWLS) hopes to address.

The group was formed by TAFE teacher Janet Henderson and one of her students, Deirdre Gordon.

The two women started talking about the housing needs of older women one day and realised there was a huge need for different types of housing.

They now have 24 people in the group and are investigating ways to pool their resources, find vacant land in the Lismore area and develop it to meet the needs of older women.

"We have women from alternative backgrounds; some are separated from their husbands or are widows," Ms Henderson said. 

"They may have a house now but may not be able to maintain it or pay the rates in the future.

"There are women having trouble finding rental accommodation who are hopping from house to house sleeping on couches, who thought they were secure but had their (rental) house sold from under them."

She said at this stage the group was trying to boost their numbers to find out what the main needs were, but ultimately they were looking to buy land and build housing to meet the needs they had identified.

"As people get older they need to access doctors and chemist shops. We want to find out what the needs are, get the group to do some workshopping and brainstorming on what people want and then contact the people we need to talk to for each of those situations.

"There is nothing out there and they feel like they are not getting anywhere."

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