A new report has highlighted that older Australian tenants are among those faring the worst when it comes to housing affordability, with the average paying more than 50 per cent of their income in rent.
According to the 2019 Rental Affordability Index (RAI), single aged pensioners living in metropolitan areas are spending more than 50 per cent of their income in rent. In Sydney, the average single age pensioner is paying 88 per cent of their income, the research said.
The research has prompted COTA Australia to call for an increase in rent assistance, which it said will go a long way in helping end a “housing crisis” for older Australians.
“Older renters in Australia are among the most impacted by the lack of affordable and appropriate housing because they are living on a fixed income with limited earning potential and are entirely at the mercy of market forces and rental instability,” COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said.
“Not only do older renters tend to have higher healthcare costs, they need to be close to their communities, transport and services to stay healthy and connected.
“It should be no surprise at all that homelessness among older people is climbing as rents outstrip government benefits, including Commonwealth rent assistance. It should never have been allowed to get to this point. The maximum rent assistance should be increased by 40 per cent.”
The RAI found that the rental situation for Newstart recipients was worst of all, with several greater metropolitan areas costing more than 100 per cent of their income, Mr Yates noted, adding that people over 55 “are the fastest-growing cohort on Newstart, those below retirement age but locked out of the workforce by the systemic disadvantage of age discrimination, underpinned by ageism”.
“COTA has been flagging the need for a comprehensive plan across all levels of government to tackle housing availability and affordability for years,” said Mr Yates.
“This crisis stems from decades of underinvestment in social housing and failure to plan for the future.
“We now have mountains of research, reports and evidence that tell us unequivocally Australia’s affordable housing situation is untenable and unsustainable.
“With more people reaching retirement as renters, rent stress and homelessness will continue to grow. We cannot afford further inaction.”