Time for Action on Afordable Housing for Seniors – Community Care Review


Governments need to urgently increase their investment in affordable housing options and specialist support services to address the growing number of older people in housing stress, writes Fiona York.

It is often assumed that the older generations are home owners, and the discussion on housing and older people is often focused on downsizing, passing on the family home to children, or choices around retirement housing. However, home ownership has been steadily declining for a number of years, and many older people – particularly women – have never been able to buy a house.

Not only that, more older people than ever are retiring with a mortgage or living in long-term private rental. Australia is facing a large increase of older people who do not have safe and affordable places to live.

With the average rent for a one-bedroom unit in Melbourne at $329 per week, an older person on the Age Pension can be paying 75 per cent or more of their income on rent alone. The situation for older people on Newstart Allowance is even worse.

Not only is private rental expensive, it is also insecure. Leases may be as short as six months and evictions can occur with as little as two weeks’ notice. An unexpected change in a person’s health – a fall, a stroke, or loss of mobility – may lead to the loss of a home if there are steps or a shower over the bath. Landlords may be reluctant to make home modifications to allow their older tenants to remain living in the property, making it difficult for them to age in place.

SOURCE: York, Fiona. “Time for action on affordable housing for seniors.”  Community Care Review, 2 March, 2017

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BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia.


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