Housing justice for older people in NSW – An Action Agenda for the NSW State Election

The Ageing on the Edge NSW Forum is a coalition of organisations working together towards housing justice for older people on low incomes. The Forum was originally convened as a Reference Group for the Ageing on the Edge Project that launched a report in November 2017 entitled ‘The Older I Get the Scarier It Becomes – Older People at Risk of Homelessness in NSW’. Based on widespread consultation with older people and the community sector in NSW, a number of recommendations were adopted by the Forum and are the basis of actions that are critical to addressing the needs of older people facing housing hardship in NSW.

‘The Older I Get the Scarier It Becomes’ Report identified and described the rapidly growing prevalence of older people living in housing poverty and stress that are at risk of homelessness in NSW with a 50% rise in the number of older low income renters paying unaffordable rents in the five year period between 2012 and 2017 (21,000 to 33,000 households). Single women households are experiencing the greatest hardship representing 45.5 per cent of these households (single males 30.5 per cent and couples 24.0 per cent).

The report found that the private rental market is completely inappropriate for older people to age-in-place due to the cost, lack of secure tenure and difficulties obtaining aged care modifications to enable them to age-in-place. The consequences of not taking action are often dire for older renters who are on a downward spiral of ill-health and often premature entry into residential aged care.

The Ageing on the Edge NSW Forum calls on all parties in the upcoming NSW State Election to urgently introduce three key initiatives that will make a real difference to the lives of thousands of older people suffering significant rental hardship across our State:

•    Establish a state-wide housing information and support service for older people that help older plan for the their retirement housing future and assist those at immediate risk of homelessness
•    As part of a comprehensive evidence based housing strategy setting out a 20-year plan for NSW’s housing system, develop a specific older peoples housing strategy with clear social and affordable housing supply targets accompanied by an initial five-year funded action plan.
•    Support accessibility and adaptability by strengthening requirements for new homes to meet universal design standards

The Forum has produced a campaign letter and infographic that spells out the key problems and recommended solutions to address the increasing problem facing thousands of older people at risk of homelessness in NSW.

For more information about the Ageing on the Edge Forum, its members and more detailed information about the findings in ‘The Older I Get the Scarier It Becomes’ Report please see the following link: https://www.oldertenants.org.au/national-action/new-south-wales