The release of the Rental Affordability Index today again highlights the high levels of housing stress being felt across the nation and the need for all levels of government to act to firstly prevent it from worsening, and preferably to turn it around.
COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said older people, especially those on pensions, allowances or low superannuation or investment incomes, find it very difficult to obtain suitable accommodation within their limited budgets and many were finding themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness for the first time in their 60s.
“This Index reflects what we already know – that housing stress is a reality for far too many people who do not own their own home, and those numbers are also increasing,” Mr Yates said.
“Particularly in our capital cities, finding rental accommodation if you are a single, non-home-owning older Australian on even a modest income is a huge challenge and some older people are finding they have to move away from areas where they have networks of support to find a place that they can afford.
“For older people a secure home can be the difference between good health and decline in health which is rarely factored into the housing debate.
“The fastest growing group at risk of homelessness is older women. Action needs to be urgently taken to reverse this trend.”
Mr Yates said tackling housing stress required a multifaceted set of policies at national, state and local government levels in a coordinated response.
“Increased social and community housing are one part of the solution but so is an overall increase in housing supply and particularly affordable and appropriate housing designed for an increasingly ageing population.
“We’d like to see the establishment of an Affordable Housing Growth Fund to deliver ongoing revenue for affordable housing stock.
“We have also consistently called for an increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance to keep pace with the increasing cost of rent for those on income support.
“We have also argued that the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) should be redesigned and continued, not axed because of implementation errors
“These initiatives, alongside other levers in the planning and development space at state and local levels, are a starting point for national action to improving the standards of living of many older people and others in the community suffering extreme housing stress.”
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.
COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.