MEDIA RELEASE; 10,000 New Affordable Rental Homes Open Doors to Ease Housing Stress for Older Australians

Older people struggling to meet their next rental payment will welcome the Gillard Government’s announcement of $1 billion for the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), said seniors advocate COTA Australia today.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said housing stress was a huge issue for many seniors, with homelessness in people aged over 70 on the rise.

“The Government’s incentives for 10,000 new affordable rental homes by 2015‐16 will help meet the escalating demand for affordable housing options as older people worry about how they can keep up with rising rental costs,” Mr Yates said.

“Access to affordable and appropriate housing impacts on the health and wellbeing of older Australians, their ability to age in place and their capacity to continue contributing to their family, friends and society.

“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.

“The issue is particularly acute for those older people on pensions struggling to meet the cost of private rentals, and for older women who have been home carers and don’t have any superannuation to fall back on. Even older employed people find rents have risen much higher than wages in many areas across Australia.

“These older people will benefit from the additional affordable rental homes funded today.”

Mr Yates said solving the affordable housing crisis required a multi‐pronged approach, including an annual repeat of today’s announcment for the next five years.

“While it is great to see a large injection on the NRAS today, many older people will be looking to the Government to commit to further measures in the upcoming Budget.

“There needs to be an immediate 30% increase to the maximum rate of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance to help those who can’t wait for these new homes to come on line in two or five years time.

“We are also calling for the establishment of an Affordable Housing Fund to provide 20,000 new low income rental properties each year.”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jane Garcia 0434 489 533