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Report paints a ‘bleak picture’ for seniors who rent


There are mounting calls for government to include affordable housing measures in the budget as new research again shows seniors are particularly vulnerable.

Anglicare Australia on Thursday released its 2017 Rental Affordability Snapshot, which found that just 1.6 per cent of the 67,000 properties surveyed nationally were affordable for single people on the Age pension.

Kasy Chambers

The research is the latest to highlight the urgent need for age-friendly affordable housing and worsening homelessness among seniors.

In February Australian Ageing Agenda reported on a new coalition of aged care providers, homelessness services and consumers established to bring about government action on the issue (read story here).

Releasing its latest snapshot yesterday, Anglicare Australia said the annual survey, now in its eighth year, showed the situation was deteriorating for people on the lowest incomes living in the private rental market.

“It’s getting tougher for renters,” said Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers.

While there has been much focus on the cost of living in capital cities, the report found that renters experienced difficulty all over Australia and regional areas were “failing to offer relief.”

It concluded that payments like the Aged Pension and Disability Support had become a “poverty trap.”

“They’re so low that paying rent means you can’t then afford to buy food, clothing, transport or go to the doctor,” said Ms Chambers.

Homelessness among seniors increasing

Ian Yates

Council on the Ageing Australia said the report “paints a bleak picture” of rental affordability across Australia and highlighted “the urgent need for action in the upcoming budget.”

Older people, and those reliant on the Age pension in particular, were among the most vulnerable to inflation in rental housing, the group said.

COTA chief executive Ian Yates said homelessness is increasing among older Australians and this could not be addressed without tackling rental affordability.

“The upcoming budget is a great opportunity to tackle the issue head-on,” Mr Yates said.

“We need a comprehensive and coordinated approach to housing affordability across government– not just one-off measures on property ownership which may help some people but not those most in need.”

The group called for an increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance and in the Newstart Allowance.

Ms Chambers said Anglicare Australia was calling for the budget to include investment in public housing, a plan to improve renter’s rights, greater support for community housing options, and winding back Capital Gains Tax and negative gearing concessions.

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