New data reveals more than half of older Australians are experiencing housing stress due to either a lack of affordable housing or a lack of age-appropriate housing.
A survey conducted by National Seniors Australia shows housing affordability is a significant problem for 65 per cent of respondents aged 50-plus.
Around 45 per cent of respondents to the Suitable Housing in Later Life survey said they were currently living in homes that were unsuitable for later life because they’re too big, too costly to maintain or security of tenure can’t be guaranteed.
The report was based on data from the annual National Seniors Social Survey of more than 5300 older Australians.
Renters facing biggest problems
Unsurprisingly, older renters were in a more precarious situation than homeowners. National Seniors found renters were nine times more likely than others to be ‘quite concerned’ or ‘acutely concerned’ about their ability to afford housing.
National Seniors CEO Chris Grice says the findings echo the wider rental crisis facing Australians of all ages.
“Our research shows 39 per cent of older renters experienced severe cost-of-living impacts because of rising living costs,” he says.
“Housing security clearly remains a problem for renters, with many wanting easier and more affordable pathways to buy, or more secure, affordable, long-term rental options.
“The results support our call for an increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance. While we were pleased to see a 15 per cent increase to the maximum rate in the Federal Budget, it is not enough.”
Homeowners not unscathed
It isn’t just older renters facing problems. Homeowners, especially those who still have a mortgage, are facing cost pressures in the form of rising interest rates.
Even some of those without a mortgage are struggling with the cost of council rates, utilities, retirement village fees, body corporate fees and much more.
The option to move to a smaller house and reduce some of these costs is hindered by increases to stamp duty, as well as a lack of age-appropriate housing stock.
“We need urgent action on housing, such as housing built for seniors’ specific needs, in conjunction with aged care that recognises the realities of older people’s living circumstances,” Mr Grice says.
Could NORCs hold the answer?
A repeated complaint from survey respondents was a lack of age-appropriate housing and/or appealing retirement villages in desirable areas. Many bemoaned the lack of government and private investment into such facilities.
One type of retirement living option that is gaining popularity is the naturally occurring retirement community, or NORC.
In plain terms, a NORC is an organically occuring area of a town or city where more than 50 per cent of the residents are of retirement age, and who have joined together voluntarily to form an unofficial retirement community.
Many NORCs have popped up in some of the priciest spots in the country, including Sydney’s North Shore and the Melbourne CBD.
NORCs are often formed in apartment complexes as older people look to downsize from large family homes. These types of areas attract downsizers who don’t want to lose the community feel they may have once had.
Has housing affordability become a problem for you? What do you think needs to be done to address the issue? Let us know in the comments section below.
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