"One Rent Increase from Disaster" - Older renters living on the edge in Western Australia

On Thursday 15 August 2019 the national Ageing on the Edge Older Persons Homelessness Prevention Project released its summary report on the housing crisis facing a growing number of older people in Western Australia.

See photos from the launch

Produced in collaboration with Council on the Ageing WA and a Reference Group of key WA agencies and individuals, the report highlights the rapidly growing problems facing many older people in WA. The report also identifies solutions to address the vital housing and service responses needed to help older people in WA who are struggling in poverty, hardship and at constant risk of homelessness.

This research has found that there are many older renters struggling to the extent that they are doing without the daily essentials of life such as food, heating, medications and aged care services to ensure they keep a roof over their head. They are a hidden group that are putting up with enormous hardship while constantly under the stress of being, as an older person interviewed stated, ‘one rent increase from disaster’. Older women who have experienced gender disadvantage due to discrimination and lower levels of savings are particularly impacted.

Some of the key points from the report are:

  •     There has been a 16% increase in homelessness in WA for those aged 65-74 between the 2011-2016 census, the biggest jump in homelessness of any age group
  •     Over 12,000 people aged 65 and over are in housing stress paying more than 30% of their income in rent in housing that is insecure, unaffordable and not adaptable as they age.
  •     This represents a 46.8% increase between 2011-2016
  •     61% of those affected are women
  •     4,395 or 36% or are in extreme housing stress paying more than 50% of their income in rent
  •     35% of those in extreme housing stress are aged 75 or over

What are the solutions? Among 11 report recommendations two key actions are needed:

  •     More social housing to adequately respond to an ageing population
  •     A specialist housing information and support service to help older people navigate their way out of homelessness and housing poverty

The WA Government is currently developing affordable housing and homelessness strategies. We strongly urge the government to incorporate the key recommendations in this report into these strategies. The Federal Government must also support the WA Government in these initiatives as it has a central role in the funding and provision of affordable housing and responses to homelessness.

PDF icon Read the Summary Report

PDF icon Read the Full Report

Download the infographic

Read Liz Lennons speech from the launch