Unaffordable housing may leave Baby Boomers homeless

  • 01/12/2015

Many Baby Boomers may be left homeless unless the Government can do something to make housing more affordable for the elderly, the Salvation Army says.

Its new report has found that as housing ownership becomes less likely and accommodation allowance budgets become stretched, many people who have worked and saved their whole lives could be left without homes for the first time in old age.

The report, Homeless Baby Boomers, says up to 35 percent of retirees will rent their retirement home by 2025, meaning nearly 100,000 people will need government rental assistance, compared to 35,000 today.

Study author Alan Johnson said that was a worry because governments had not managed to keep housing support payments at adequate levels even at current demand.

"The problem here is that low-income households, and especially tenants in Auckland and Christchurch, are being squeezed between rising rents and static income support which was meant to assist them with high housing costs," he said.

He said the trend of homeless elderly had already begun to emerge in Australia due to similar problems.

"These are people who have held down jobs and led fairly conventional lives until an event such as relationship breakdown, redundancy, injury or a health setback means that they lose their housing and perhaps income. They become street homeless and destitute."

Mr Johnson said a major review of the housing allowance system was needed as well as policies to encourage construction of more housing for the elderly.

Labour housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the Government had failed to take real action on the issue.

He said while it was easy to live a modest life on superannuation while owning your home, it was much tougher for people renting.

"Instead of pressuring councils to sell their pensioner housing, the government should make the Income-Related Rent Subsidy available to Councils and encourage them to provide more and better housing for senior citizens," he said.

Salvation Army recommendations to the Government: