Housing an older Australia: More of the same or something different?

Older people’s housing is not only of interest to older people themselves: it attracts the attention of many others, each viewing it from their own perspective, and so each with different interests in the future of older people’s housing. At least six different views that feature in debates about housing and older people can be identified: 1. The views of older people themselves, most of whom want to stay in their own home; but most is not all, and the view of the minority, particularly those who do not own a home, is rarely heard, while for those who do own their own home, it is not necessarily the same house for ever; 2. The micro-view of professionals in aged care services who see older people struggling to stay in housing that no longer suits their needs and who advocate “flexible housing” but rarely define just what “flexible” means; 3. The more macro-views of urban planners who see changing housing for older people as a means of levering wider change in urban structure and housing markets; 4. The less clear views of public housing policy makers, less clear because of the blurring of boundaries between housing and care services; 5. The views of those concerned about financing residential aged care, whose beady eyes see older people’s housing as assets that can be realised to pay for care; and 6. The more distant views of those who expect to inherit, who see their elderly relatives’ housing as property that will one day be theirs, and so want to hold on to the property for as long as possible. Reconciling these different perspectives is a central task in developing policy options for housing an ageing Australia. The task is made more complex because it is not restricted to developing options for housing older people but has to take account of relationships with other segments of the housing market and consideration of wider policy concerns such as intergenerational transfers of housing assets. The objective of today’s Conference is to assess the effectiveness of current policy settings and canvass a range of options in a wide policy context.
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