Older Aussies face housing crisis

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If you thought Australia’s housing affordability crisis was mainly a millennial problem, think again – many older Australians, pensioners and retirees are also experiencing housing stress, according to an Australian seniors advocate.

COTA (Council on the Ageing), last week hosted a housing policy summit in Canberra to discuss the impact of the housing affordability of Australia’s ageing population, many of whom are experiencing financial stress from retiring with a mortgage still owing, or managing health and mobility problems while being priced out of accessible homes.

COTA chief executive, Ian Yates, described older Australians as the “forgotten faces” of Australia’s housing affordability crisis, with rates of home ownership among the nation’s elderly expected to decline for the next 10-15 years.

Older Australians are increasingly falling through the cracks in the growing housing affordability and supply challenge, with a growing number of older Australians needing to rent, rather than owning a home outright.”

“This trend is already exerting extra pressure on the rental market and on many older Australians who are struggling to pay their rent, while also juggling other rising expenses like energy.”

According to the summit’s keynote speaker, Grattan Institute CEO, John Daley, housing issues set to hit older Australians hard in the next two decades include: 

  • Falling rates of home ownership
  • Rising rental prices and a hostile private rental property market
  • Scarcity in social and community housing
  • Increasing number of older Australians retiring with a mortgage
  • Rental housing not fit for or secure enough to meet the physical needs of older people
  • Inadequate supply of suitable housing for older people to downsize, while remaining in or close to their pre-existing community

According to a 2016 study by the University of Swinburne, there are close to 426,000 individuals over the age of 50 years living alone or with a partner in private rental nationwide. Population projections from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggest that this figure could increase by approximately 42% to 606,340 in 2030, and by approximately 95% to 832,319 by 2050.

Previous recommendations from the Swinburne University study for providing security to retiree renters included encouraging investment in hosing for long-term rental yields, providing an age-specific rental supplement to older households, and introducing a new rental affordability scheme specifically for aged tenants.


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