Sydney’s high housing costs driving older people out

Sydney’s high housing costs driving older people out

Posted on Friday, March 20 2015 at 3:30 PM

Council on the Ageing NSW has found that one in 10 people over the age of 80 are renting in the private housing market.

CEO Ian Day says: “Older people on low or fixed incomes are
increasingly moving from Sydney to areas like the Mid North Coast in the hope
of obtaining affordable housing.

“We surveyed thousands of people aged 50-plus about housing last
year and were alarmed to discover how many older people are struggling to keep
a roof over their heads.”

The survey found that 20 per cent of people whose main source of
income is the age pension were renting.

“This is extremely worrying,” Day says, “especially if they’re
renting in Sydney, the world’s third most expensive city. In reality, these
people will often be choosing between paying their rent and paying for food.”

According to COTA NSW, many of these people are turning into
reluctant sea- and tree-changers.

“Older people on low or fixed incomes increasingly have no choice
but to leave Sydney if they wish to obtain affordable housing,” Day adds.

Nearly 40 per cent of respondents to the survey who were living in
the Hunter/Central Coast were on the age pension. In contrast to Sydney, the
region offers a wider range of affordable housing options, including
residential parks and retirement villages.

“We found that more than 30 per cent of respondents who were
living in retirement villages were from the Hunter/Central Coast and over 60
per cent of respondents who were living in residential parks were from the

“While residential parks and retirement villages can represent a
wise choice for someone seeking affordable housing, it’s alarming that many
people on low and fixed incomes are facing a reality where they’ll in effect be
‘forced to move’ as they age because of the dearth of low-cost housing in the state’s

“Successive governments have failed to act to address the crisis
of unaffordable housing in Sydney. Unless concerted action is taken to address
this issue, we will see ever-growing numbers of vulnerable older people
‘migrating’ to the regions so they can keep a roof over their heads.
Unfortunately, this is likely to put pressure on the stock of affordable
housing in the regions, and we’ll see increasingly desperate competition for low-cost
housing there.

Day says the issue is also one of planning.

“We need to see reform of the state’s planning regime so that more
affordable housing around transport and service hubs can occur, not just in
Sydney, but in major regional towns and centres,” he says.

“For the next Government to meaningfully address this issue, we
need to see committed, whole-of-government action across a range of portfolios,
including Treasury, Planning, Fair Trade and Family and Community Housing.”


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