Calls grow to safeguard seniors from housing stress

May 02, 2023
Advocates have called for more social and affordable housing to ease the burden on older Australians. Source: Getty Images.

Anglicare Australia has joined forces with Council on the Ageing (COTA) to advocate for an increase in social housing options, with a particular focus on protecting older individuals from the negative impacts of housing stress.

In response to Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot, both organisations have issued a plea to policymakers and stakeholders alike to prioritise the expansion of social and affordable housing opportunities throughout the nation.

The Snapshot surveyed over 45,895 listings and found that:

  • 162 rentals (0.4 per cent) were affordable for a person on the Age Pension
  • 508 rentals (1.1 per cent) were affordable for a couple on the Age Pension
  • Both results are record lows in the Snapshot’s fourteen-year history.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said that “older people have been left behind by the rental market.”

“Our Rental Affordability Snapshot shows that a person on the Age Pension can afford 0.4% of rental listings across Australia. We’ve been releasing this Snapshot for ten years and this is the worst result we’ve ever seen. Couples are barely better off. They can afford just 1.1%,” Chambers said.

“We know why this is happening, and we know how to fix it. Every year, Australia’s social housing shortfall gets worse and worse. We have a shortfall of almost 640,000 social homes. Many older people depend on these homes for security as they get older.

“Without action, older people will simply be left to the mercy of the market.”

According to Chambers, the most effective approach to addressing the rental crisis involves the construction of social and affordable rental properties.

“The private market is failing people on low incomes. Even though Australia has built a record number of homes over the last ten years, rents keep soaring,” Chambers said.

“The best way to make rentals more affordable is to build social and affordable homes. Building general homes and hoping affordability will trickle down just isn’t working.

“Our social housing shortfall has now ballooned to 640,000 social homes across Australia. Ending this shortfall will help people in the most severe rental stress, and free up the cheapest rentals for everybody else.

“If we do not tackle this shortfall, we do not stand a chance of ending rental stress in Australia. We’re calling on the government to build social homes in the next Budget – and make sure everyone has a place to call home.”

Source: Getty Images.

COTA Australia CEO Pat Sparrow said “that when it comes to finding appropriate, affordable, accessible rental accommodation, older Australians are doing it particularly tough.

“We’re already in a situation where many older people are having to make tough decisions about where to spend their money, which can include forgoing basics,” Sparrow said.

“The fear – and reality – of rental increases only exacerbates an already incredibly difficult situation.

“Finding a rental property is difficult enough for most people, but when you factor in some of the unique challenges such as mobility and accessibility needs that some older people face, it can make a tough situation feel near impossible.”

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