'It's a very bad outlook': Half of those turning 65 in 2040 will have to rent

Researchers are warning of a looming crisis in elderly housing.

A new study has found that in the near future, half of those turning 65 in 2040 will have to rent - with those who can't afford it ending up out on the streets.

Twenty years ago, most Kiwis retired owning a home, but that's dropping rapidly. By 2040, fewer than half of retirees will own their own home.

John Hurrell is worried about his future. The Porirua Salvation Army volunteer lost his home when his business collapsed, and now he's retired and renting.

"I'm faced now with basically trying to live on super in a rental market that's actually going up in terms of cost," he says.

As home ownership rates plummet, he's seeing many other pensioners' savings run out in their seventies, and researchers are warning the future is looking bleak.

Kay Saville-Smith from the Aging Well National Science Challenge says something needs to change.

"If we don't change things, it's a very bad outlook which will mean higher degrees of insecurity, poor housing, increasingly dilapidated housing in the rental market and a lot more elderly people literally homeless." 

The Aging research predicts that in 20 years, under current policy, at least half of those retiring won't own a home - and that makes them vulnerable.

Older renters are twice as likely as homeowners to live in houses that are poorly maintained and twice as likely to suffer from health problems like asthma, anxiety and depression.

"Our retirement incomes are designed to give older people a good standard of living, but it assumes they're not going to be paying mortgages and not going to be paying rent," Ms Saville-Smith says.

They're looking for solutions, such as the purpose-built Auckland house, part of the Abbeyfield group, where seniors are learning how to flat together.

"We've all been used to being queen of our own kitchen, if not our own home, so there's adjustments to be made that way," says resident Audine Robson.

"I truly think the Government needs to be looking at places like this," says her flatmate Margaret Burke. "Part of the community, not these huge big residential areas."

But with just 16 houses around the country at present, it's a long way from solving the looming crisis.

"This tsunami is just starting," warns Mr Hurrell. "I'm the beginning of the baby boomers and there's a big crowd behind me."