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Elderly tenants risk becoming homeless

31 July 2013 Brendan Wong

High rents and low pensions are putting pressure on elderly Australians living in private rental accommodation, with a growing number at risk of becoming homeless, according to the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness.

Brotherhood of St Laurence executive director Tony Nicholson told Residential Property Manager it was anticipated that by 2020 there would be over 400,000 single elderly people in the private rental market who were on low incomes.

“A number of these people are going to be quite vulnerable and the stress is starting to show as we already see elderly people getting in touch with homeless services around Australia when they have been unable to sustain a tenancy in the private rental market,” he said.

“A majority are women who have started their lifetime being in and out of the workforce largely because of caring responsibilities and they get to the age of 65 without any superannuation at all and of course, they don’t own a home, so that leaves them in a very tenuous situation and it’s very hard to age well in those circumstances.”

Mr Nicholson said rents were escalating faster than CPI for the last decade and making it tougher for people on low income living in the private rental market.

He added that the government needed to address this issue to continue the progress that had been made in recent years in reducing the number of people without shelter.

“It’s either the supply or the demand, so looking at vehicles that would encourage investment into housing for rental to low income households. The other side of it is on the demand side, to improve the ability of these elderly people to cope with the high rents, and so one of the areas to be looked at is increasing the rent assistance that they will be able to receive.

“At the moment, it’s capped at about $60 a week for all welfare recipients. I think there’s an argument to be put that elderly people ought to be considered for additional rent assistance.”

Elderly tenants risk becoming homeless
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