'I'm 'retired' but to stay off the streets I have to work'

"Some see me as independent, and then there are the girls that are in the same boat as me: existing, not living."

I would call myself homeless with an address; I am past retirement, but if I want to stay off the streets and keep my four rented walls, the reality is I have to keep working.

The pictures I see on the internet of people over the age of 65, most wearing expensive clothes, some enjoying overseas holidays, and sleeping in crisp white sheets make me laugh. For a lot, including me, that is not reality.

Read more: Homeless crisis growing amongst older women in Australia

I buy my sheets and my clothes at the op shops. A lot of people go op shopping as a ‘hobby’, but for me it’s a reality. I don’t drink, smoke or gamble. I don’t have a car, and if I did have a car the truth is I would not be able to afford to maintain it.

People that say they are doing it tough, yet they have car in the driveway and a holiday on their agenda. They have no idea what tough is.

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I see advertisements telling me I can save for a holiday, but that’s not reality either. The pathetic amount of money that Centrelink allows me to earn goes to rent, rates, electricity and food. Rents are horrendous, and the list for public housing is long.

My husband died long ago; the little savings we did have went to his medical expenses, he had no super, and I was his carer for many years. I have no regrets; he was the love of my life. There are no children, it’s just me and yes, my circle of friends is huge.

Some see me as independent, and then there are the girls that are in the same boat as me: existing, not living.

I volunteer once a week at a Food Relief; it’s meant to be for the homeless. The amount of well dressed people that arrive in expensive cars to buy cheap food is depressing, and they have no problem with buying food that should be going to people that really need it.

The divide between wealth and poverty is getting larger every day.

Can you relate, or do you know people who could relate to this story?