Call for urgent action on housing

Tuesday, 10th October, 2017

NEW REPORT – Many elderly people are waiting for social housing.

AT LEAST 700 South Australians aged 75 and over are languishing on the public housing waiting list as the state’s housing crisis worsens. One hundred of them are over 85.

These are some of the grim figures to come out of the 2016 Census – and they have seniors and social welfare groups alarmed as a new report calls for urgent state government action to protect seniors from homelessness and rental stress.

The Census shows two in three older households (aged 65 and over) who are renting privately pay more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, with one in four paying more than half.

“This group have to cut back on food, medications, heating and other essentials just to put a roof over their head,” said Dr Debbie Faulkner from the University of Adelaide, who co-authored the report Finding a Suitable Home for Older People at Risk of Homelessness in South Australia.

“We are particularly concerned that a third of this group are 75 or over and, due to their age, are at extreme risk of ill health that can be worsened by housing stress and poverty.”

Jeff Fiedler from the Ageing on the Edge project said there had been a 48 per cent increase in the numbers of older households in housing stress in the five years between 2011 and 2016.

“With increasing numbers of our ageing population retiring as renters rather than home owners, this rate will continue to escalate unless governments take action,” Mr Fiedler said.

“Single older women are particularly at risk due to a lifetime of lower wages and superannuation.

“Our research shows that the SA government must urgently act on this problem by improving housing services to help older people out of their housing trap and providing better pathways into affordable housing.”

Council on the Ageing SA chief executive Jane Mussared said the report clearly lays out the challenges facing many older people. “Crisis care and premature entry to aged care are much more expensive than timely, adequate and secure long-term housing for those who are at risk,” she said.

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