New report: Sydney rents - the Grinch robbing older people of Christmas

In the lead up to Christmas, thousands of Sydney pensioners are surviving on less than $228 a week after forking out half their income on rents, a new report will reveal today.
 
The release of the Ageing on the Edge NSW report in Sydney today by the Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) and University of Adelaide paints a dire picture of rental affordability for older Australians.
 
Key experts, advocacy groups and policy-makers including the NSW Federation of Housing Associations, Homelessness NSW and COTA NSW are congregating in Sydney today at a policy summit to workshop new solutions to address the mounting financial pressure on older Australian renters.
 
In March 2017, over 32000 low-income households aged 65 years and over in NSW living in the private rental market were in housing stress, paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent. Of these households, 9314 were in severe housing stress, paying more than 50 per cent of their income in rent.
 
Co-author and HAAG’s National Development Officer, Jeff Fiedler, said the Ageing on the Edge Report shows that 3,000 aged pensioners older than 75 are paying more than 50% of their pensions in rent and must wait more than 5 years to be eligible for priority housing.
 
Mr Fiedler said the current private rental market is completely inappropriate for older people, due to the cost, the lack of security and difficulties in getting landlords to put in place modifications such as handrails and ramps for older tenants.
 
“Almost two thirds of the aged pensioners who are paying half their income in rent are in Sydney, which means they have less than $228 a week to live on, before paying for medication, transport, electricity and food.
 
“Unfortunately, the Christmas period is also the period when evictions are common and landlords give tenants notice. In the case of older people it’s quite often because younger people can afford higher rents.
 
“There are very, very few affordable, suitable places for them to go, so for many there really is no Christmas.”
 

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