Even if rental properties could be offered at 20 percent below market rates, most of these renters will still not be able to afford them. As well, more and more Australians are entering retirement with substantial mortgages hanging around their necks. Many will want to downsize, and there will be nowhere for them to go.
These and other concerns prompted the peak seniors organisation, COTA Over 50s, to conduct a major forum on housing issues for older Australians as part of a national gathering of all the state and territory Councils on the Ageing.
“The absolutely fundamental requirement for people to age well is to have secure accommodation,” said COTA Over 50s Executive Director, Dr Geoffrey Bird. “Every health initiative, every effort at social inclusion, every family that wants to support their elders, must work from the basic premise that people have suitable housing.
“We are delighted that the Rudd government has taken housing seriously, and has appointed Tanya Plibersek to lead the charge. We are concerned, however, that older Australians might be overlooked in the focus on delivering affordable housing to working families and to first home owners. Older Australians are becoming a larger section of the population. They are a self-reliant bunch who have a lot to offer, not only to their own families, but to the community as a whole. It’s vital that they can stay living in their own communities, in housing that is accessible, and from which they can continue to
participate as active, effective citizens.
“Older Australians in rental accommodation are particularly vulnerable. If you’re on a pension and the rent goes up even a few dollars, it can mean ending up on the streets. If that happens, it’s a downward spiral for the person, and an expensive strain on the services that have to step in and help. It makes sound economic sense to enable people
to retain their accommodation and be better able to look after themselves.”