MEDIA RELEASE: Older people in housing crisis

Plans that will see housing stress reduced for thousands of Australians, and 30,000 new and affordable homes built a year, are supported by COTA Australia.

The 4-point-plan released today by Australians for Affordable Housing (of which COTA Australia is a member) is an important step forward towards keeping older Australians out of poverty and free from disadvantage.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said the number of older people in housing stress was increasing rapidly and they would benefit significantly from the 4-point plan.

“Since 2004 the number of Australians aged over 70 in housing stress has more than doubled – there were 56,000 households in 2004, 112,000 households in 2008 and the numbers continue to rise.

“Housing affordability directly impacts on how well someone ages, so affordable and appropriate accommodation for older Australians is absolutely vital,” Mr Yates said.

“Older people on low incomes are often at greater risk of housing becoming out of reach as they age because they have less superannuation to draw on.

“This particularly affects many older women, who have often been homemakers and have little or no super. Over the past five years there has been a significant increase in homeless older women, with older women outnumbering older men in requests for accommodation services since 2007/08.

“Older single people are also over-represented in housing stress and are doing it tough.

“The result is poor physical and mental health in their later years, which isn’t acceptable over something as basic as affordable housing in 21st Century Australia.

“These people will directly benefit from the plan proposed today to make housing more accessible for people in housing stress.”

Australians for Affordable Housing’s 4-point-plan would:

  • fund 20,000 new low-income rental properties, and double the number of property incentives under the National Rental Affordability scheme
  • change the tax breaks for housing investors and see stamp duty abolished,
  • increase rent assistance for low-income workers, and
  • set benchmarks for all levels of government to deliver affordable housing.

The plan has been released ahead of the COAG Select Committee on Housing and Homelessness meeting in Perth tomorrow.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Anastasia Stomo 043 224 3389