The next crisis: homeless old people

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See if you can figure out the mistake in their thinking:

We all know the struggle first-home buyers face getting onto the property ladder.

But there’s a new problem brewing: whether New Zealand is geared up to cope with the housing needs of an ageing population.

“Some people have been affected by the [economic] downturn and also leaky homes, I think that’s had an impact on people as well,” says Terry Foster, a board member of Abbeyfield, a social housing initiative offering low-priced rental properties to the elderly.

Twice as many over-60s are renting than there were 10 years ago, and the Salvation Army says that could become a big problem.

“There will be a crisis I think coming in the next three or four years,” says the Salvation Army’s director of social policy Alan Johnson.

“I think we will see more and more people literally living on the streets, and that will include older people.”

Mr Johnson says New Zealand needs to reconfigure our housing stock. The Prime Minister agrees, saying more purpose-built houses for the elderly are needed.

“We’ll certainly need to change the composition of our housing because people are living a lot longer and are actually demanding smaller properties,” says John Key.

The Salvation Army says 500 people will retire every week for the next 20 years. It estimates one fifth of them won’t own a home – that’s around 5000 people a year needing accommodation.

If you retire and you have no equity, then the last thing you’ll be able to do is be in the market for a home.   And if you do retire with equity, you downsize to a place where you can afford to live.   If you can’t do that, you look at moving in with family or going flatting.

If none of the above fit, you are indeed a candidate for “social housing”, but that may mean a private room where you share communal facilities for laundry and cooking.

What we don’t get is a “housing crisis” from people who have retired but can’t find a home.   They were living somewhere before they retired.  I can believe they may have to move as they can no longer afford to live where they do.  But for most people this isn’t a situation where they are suddenly sleeping on the streets.

The ones that end up sleeping on the streets didn’t really have much to start with and they are really not going to be looking for a home and adding to the housing crisis.  So the whole premise of the oldies “wanting to get onto the property ladder” after retirement is a bit of a joke, really.

– 3 News

 


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  • Wheninrome

    I have been an advocate in the past for the elderly to break the law, free housing, free dental, doctors, education TV, computers, meals ., social activities, etc., courtesy of the justice system i.e. jail.
    They would get as many visits from family as they probably do at the moment. Certainly solve any perceived housing problem.

    • Geoff

      And unlimited sex.

    • The Accountant

      Jeffrey Archer wrote a collection of short stories when in prison. One of them was about a homeless man who would commit breaking and entering to get six months prison over the winter months. He died from exposure one year when they let him out early.

  • Michelle

    I read this the other day and couldn’t work out why it would suddenly become a problem. More making a problem that doesn’t exist
    I mean where are they now?

    a lot are selling up in cities and moving to smaller towns and having money left

    unless they are talking about the ones who have spent a lifetime on benefits?

    • Yes, but they somehow need a place to live “all of a sudden” when the retire, and putting pressure on housing stocks?

      …how do you retire as a beneficiary?

      You go from an unemployment benefit to Super.

      • ex-JAFA

        And Super is more than the Jobseeker Allowance, so if anything they can actually afford more expensive housing than before “retirement”!

      • taurangaruru

        Reminds me of a bloke I knew from school, he spent years on the dole & one day was spotted by his case officer painting the local pub. He was obviously called in for a wee chat & asked when he could come off the dole, his reply “when can I start getting the super?”

  • cows4me

    I thought the Salvation Army had gone off the rails the other day when they said handouts didn’t really do much for anyone but produce more with their hands out. Good to see it’s business as usual, had me worried there for awhile.

  • Backdoor

    There are many cheap rental houses in smaller centres around the country. I know of several in the Waikato that have adequate shops and a hospital near by.

    If retired people want low cost rent then they may need to relocate. The idea of having to “sleep on the streets” is bulldust.

    • Hard1

      It’s all about location.Location:3681 Ohura Road
      Ohura
      Ruapehu
      Manawatu / WanganuiRooms:3 bedrooms, 1 bathroomProperty type:Lifestyle dwellingFloor area:140m2Land area:0.90 acresPrice:Asking price $58,000

      • Wheninrome

        If you want a warmer climate, save power etc., try the Far North, tropical, easy lifestyle, everything grows and I mean everything, cash crops etc., cheap housing.
        Can’t for the life of me work out why Whanau remain unhoused or overcrowded given the prices up here.

        • Hard1

          Their self-respect has been gutted by grievance. Iwi leaders have taken away the mirrors.

        • Albert Lane

          I think that any investor would think twice about renting to the whanau. Too often their concept of house occupancy is at odds with the concepts of the property owner. And if the whanau want to buy a house, they must first find a deposit and sort out a mortgage. And with the high unemployment levels and poverty in those areas, together with other associated problems, where does home ownership start for such people? Simple answer. It doesn’t.

          • Wheninrome

            I had whanau tenants in a place I bought in Raetihi, they were fantastic tenants, paid their rent into the bank, no-one would normally have let to them, I probably wouldn’t have, they were in place when I bought the property. I introduced myself to them, they shook my hand and said “we pay the rent into your bank account now?”. Seemed positive to me, so continued their rental. There were Mum Dad, 2 children and Uncle and Aunty. Unfortunately they left after 1 year.

          • Wheninrome

            Marae housing, they own plenty of tribal land up here. Land suitable for farming. It is just a question of the “will” to do so.

          • Albert Lane

            The problem with marae housing is that the land is communally owned. If a house built on communal land has to be repossessed due to failure to pay the mortgage, who owns it? Can the bank then sell it to me? I don’t think so.

          • Wheninrome

            They are able to get Maori Affairs assistance for housing.

          • Albert Lane

            Yes, that may well be, but do they have to have a deposit? And if they decided to move, who could they sell it to? Could a pakeha buy a house on Maori land? And who would fund the mortgage?

          • Wheninrome

            They often have large families, the housing is often treated as communally owned.

          • Albert Lane

            So who funds the deposit? The Waitangi Tribunal?

      • Albert Lane

        And what would the homeless people do there? First of all, you don’t know why they’re homeless. It could be that their mental conditions have forced this on them. They may have drug and alcohol problems. It could be that their investments turned sour. They may even prefer living on the streets. One hat doesn’t fit all.

        • Hard1

          “And what would the homeless people do there?”
          Make a beeline for Queen Street ?.
          This discussion is really about ordinary people with few resources other than their life experience. Living in the country is grand.

      • Backdoor

        Complete with fantastic view overlooking the old Ohura Prison. A lovely piece of land ideal for raising goats. And there is no need to pay water rates. Water is provided free by the kind Creator

    • conwaycaptain

      You can rent a nice house in Putaruru, 3 brms, garage, close to shops, hospital 20kms away in Tokoroa for 200 pw or less. If you entered into a LONG term contract most probably less.

      • Wheninrome

        Limited wild parties (think wakes), drug use (apart from medicinal) all in all excellent tenants with a built in use by date, generally able to change a light bulb and put the rubbish out. Refurb for a new tenant ONLY when the use by date arrives.
        Could be the best tenant going.

      • Albert Lane

        Putaruru ???? You must be kidding. Who would move there? It would be like a semi-rural prison to an older person. I’m in my mid-70’s. I wouldn’t even contemplate moving outside my present area in a month of Sundays. conwaycaptain. Put yourself in your granny’s boots and think seriously about what you’re suggesting.

        • Pharmachick

          Given that my one remaining grandparent lives very happily in Putaruru, I don’t understand your comment.

          Also, Conway’s point was cheap cost of living – when will people learn that there are no “rights” to living in Auckland – you afford what you afford and if that means small town NZ what makes it so bad?

          • Albert Lane

            I’m not criticising Putaruru as such. But it’s not the place to move to in your old age when your families are hundreds of km away. Did your grandparent move there in recent times? Is there a support network of family members available? Tell us more. How did it happen?

          • Pharmachick

            He lived in Te Aroha most of his life actually, but yes finished out his years in Putaruru. And yes there’s family in Tok, Taupo and also Whakamaru.

          • Albert Lane

            He has made an excellent choice. He’s not living in their pockets, but in case of any problems there is family support in the general area. We’ve done the same – we’re equidistant to three of our four children and their families, but far enough away from them to allow us all to lead our own independent lives. And that’s why we moved to our present location. And yes, it’s a country town.

          • conwaycaptain

            I moved here 4 years ago. My wife died and we had considered moving here about 10 years previously. My son lives in Welly ate the moment and has lived in Dunedin and Akl and moves with work.

            Cheaper than Akl, hosptital in Tok and Hamilton, on SH 1 and an hr approx to Hamilton, Rot, Tga, Taupo.

        • Wheninrome

          Check out Tokoroa as well, NZ Forest Products put in excellent sporting facilities i.e. bowls club etc, there are golf clubs in both townships (given they are very close together). Affordable housing, and as we know communities are what you make them.
          Don’t be averse to change, it is very aging to stay stuck in the same old rut.
          Staying near children, they are just as likely to move to the other side of the world for employment.

          • Albert Lane

            Absolutely. We moved to be nearer to our kids, but not so near as to restrict their movements should they wish to live anywhere in the world. Too often we hear of older people who want to buy a house in the same street as their kids. And that’s not fair.

        • conwaycaptain

          The biggest employer in Putaruru is the Rangiura Retirement Home and it is EXPANDING

    • Albert Lane

      But the concept of moving would be frightening to a lot of older people. They would have made friends in their home area, and the idea of moving away from them and having to make new friends in a strange new area, might be scary. They will often be within driving distance of their children and grand-children, and a move of 100 km could be disastrous to them. And it would mean going to a new doctor. And if they buy in a provincial area, where section sizes are generally larger than in the cities, they’re lumbered with large lawns to mow (or to pay to get mown) and high maintenance older houses. I can see a lot of negatives in such a move, with the only positive being the financial incentives. And as Winz have so many subsidies available to oldies, and there are free services available such as house cleaning and companionship, why would they bother to even contemplate moving? And don’t forget that the next stage for the oldies is a retirement complex or village. And where are they? They’re near where they originally came from.

      • Pharmachick

        Aaah, sorry AL, I didn’t read far enough. Yes, I agree relocating away from your friend and family support network can be very hard. Ont his we agree.

        • Albert Lane

          The years advance so quickly, it’s hard to keep track of them. As we age, our family support systems become most important to us. We may be independent now, but who is to know what things might be like in a year’s time? I have now reached the age that my grandfather was when he died. It makes one very reflective.

          • Pharmachick

            I am sure it is. I particularly understand your friends/family support network comment because I’ve lived outside NZ for the last 14 years – in the US for 13, then here in Canada for a year… I know how isolating it can be. Happy New Year!

          • Albert Lane

            One of our families was living in Canada until quite recently. Fully employed. Good job. Two lovely kids. They now live 10 minutes away from us in good old NZ, and we see them regularly. The kids love us taking them down to our river to feed the ducks. And we love it too. I know exactly how you feel. We lived in Aussie for 14 years, and we returned to NZ to retain our family contacts. It wasn’t easy, but we had to do it. And we’re loving it. Happy New Year to you too. We know what you’re going through.

      • jonno1

        You’ve nailed it AL. My New Year resolution is to retire again (attempt #4 I think) which means a reduced income stream. ‘er indoors and I had been looking for a smaller place for a while, without wishing to sever local connections or support networks (in both directions). The solution: an apartment in central Auckland barely 200m from home, so a doddle to service. Not that we’re moving any time soon, but there will come a time when it’s appropriate, with no loss of amenity. Now, there’s just that small matter of de-cluttering…

        • Albert Lane

          We have been contemplating a similar move, but in our case, we are looking at buying an apartment in Melbourne. Easy terrain for walking. Lovely beaches. Nice people who will even stop for you to cross the road (yes, I mean it). Amazing public transport systems which are cheap (or free in the weekends) for oldies. Excellent shopping. As for the politics. It’s best not to know. And most apartments have a storage cage for that extra clutter you simply can’t dispose of.

  • Sagacious Blonde

    I think the impact of divorce is a contributing factor. If you split your equity in half, it’s not enough to buy again because your income is not enough to service a mortgage, so you treat yourself to a big OE and end up even worse off.
    I am amazed how many people my age group, (just 60), are single, renting, flatting and partying/spending with no thought to what happens when they can no longer work and a pension is all they’ve got.
    Mind you the state looks after those with nothing, far better than those with some, but not a lot of assets or savings – so maybe they are the smart ones.

    • Albert Lane

      Yes, that’s right. When I applied for my National Super, the Winz officer seemed astounded that I didn’t want to apply for any of the top-ups available. If that’s the case, why would older people not spend all their savings, because the Government will pay any shortfalls.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    Missed this on TV but am interested to see it getting some more exposure. This another of those type what I would term “magnifier” offerings. When an issue is viewed through a magnifier and providing a larger picture all be it distorted at the edges while ignoring the true big picture.
    Some increased demand for social housing may come from this sector of the community but it is more likely to be proportional with other sectors.
    Many who reach 65 and begin to receive NZ Superannuation will be the first time they have made any draw on the public purse after making the best life they can prior to this milestone age.
    A more realistic view would be seen by looking through the big end of a binocular and seeing that this sector are a mere spoke in the housing wheel. It might require some additional tension to keep the wheel straight it is not likely to cause the sort of wobbles implied by this article.
    Many continue to work well beyond this age and improve their future financial situation by becoming thrifty as they prepare to finally retire. Others have the benefit of enjoying the rewards of making an early decision to prepare for retirement and many will downsize for a more relaxed lifestyle.

    The options abound for the aging population and while it is true some will find the going tough the majority of them will definitely prove that the tough get going and make the necessary adjustments.

  • Pete

    See, now I’m confused, because I have just been reading this http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/64564416/improved-economy-cops-some-higher-road-toll-blame…. which states the “improving economy is to blame for the increase in the road toll. So which one is it to be, a downturn, or an improvement??? If we ever needed any more proof that these ‘experts” talk with forked tounges, this would be it.

    • who’stoblame

      Having read that article earlier I could only come to the conclusion that the police etc are at a total loss as to why such an increase in fatalities. No responsibility is attributed to they’re failing policies eg. zero tolerance over the speed limit. Lets see the real breakdown figures of fatalities such as idiots pulling out at intersections, turning in front of oncoming traffic, kiddies being run over in driveways, foreign tourists, cyclists, off road deaths, the list goes on. Inattention and driving beyond ones abilities, and that includes old people who unfortunately are unable to decypher and react quick enough to particular situations. I believe that if you are unable to drive at the speed limit then you have no business on our roads. Towing should be 100kph as well to maintain constant traffic flow. Aaahhh, enough said, I’m just a lonely voice in the wilderness

      • Albert Lane

        You’ve hit the nail on the head. However, I have heard of instances where older people who dread any thought of driving on motorways etc, are happy to have a small car that will take them to their local mall or supermarket, and they would never consider driving on highways. Perhaps we are at the stage where we have to limit some drivers to prevent them from driving on the open road. And that may well apply to younger drivers as well. But here’s an exception. I regularly drive the length of the Northern Motorway, and when driving south, a lot of cars being driven between the Greville Road on-ramp and the Takapuna off-ramp are being driven very slowly (apparently by older people and shoppers) at about 60 kmh, and they restrict other motorway users to using the right-hand lane, thereby slowing down all the traffic. I can’t believe that the traffic engineers haven’t constructed a third slow lane alongside the motorway to allow the shoppers to drive at their slower speed within the North Shore areas, and to allow bona-fide travellers to maintain their motorway speeds.

        • Sagacious Blonde

          My Mum has been given a licence that allows her to drive within a 10km radius of her home town, during the hours of daylight. As she lives 6km from town and there is no public transport or even a taxi, it still gives her a bit of independence.
          So doctors do have discretion to limit licence conditions to something more realistic for older people.

          • Albert Lane

            And that’s exactly how it should be. But I can understand why, on the North Shore, it’s easier, safer and quicker to hop on the motorway to get to the mall 5 km away. That problem could be easily resolved by constructing a commuter lane, and there’s no shortage of land for that extra lane.

    • Greg

      The improved economy for whom, we get higher liver costs, poor quality produce and primary goods, the best stuff gets exported, while we pay export prices for the rejected stuff. The economy does most nzers no favours, if not working against us. Our wages havnt increased, so I dont why the media keep reporting Bill Englishes mythical lie of a 3.6% increase, it just hasnt happened.

      • Albert Lane

        So why is our dollar doing so well? The exchange rate with the Aussie $ is the highest it’s been since the Aussie $ came into existence. Greg, I think it would be a very good idea if you did some travelling around western countries to see how their economies are doing. And when you come back to NZ, I know that you’d make a solemn declaration that there is no country in the world as good as NZ.

        • Aucky

          Our dollar isn’t strengthening, it’s the Aussie dollar that’s weakening. Other than that Albert I totally agree with you.

          • Albert Lane

            But Australia are probably our biggest trading partner (except for China). And Australia is probably our biggest labour market.

          • Wheninrome

            Agree, Aussie reliance on their mineral wealth has turned against them – China not buying as much.

        • Greg

          I’m working on that, my life is better, I’m just saying we get treated badly by a good economy, the Reserve Bank raises interest rates every time the economy sneezes, hence why it holds it in first gear with the handbrake on. Its just driving any profit straight offshore, its why theirs no wages rises.Bill English hasnt lifted the wage freeze he put on universities in 2008, despite Keys 2013 economic prediction that wages would increase for 2014. Im traveling in Xmas.

      • Wheninrome

        Go visit a farmers market if you are unhappy with the produce you are buying at supermarkets.
        Have a look at your life and where you are, it is the New Year it might be time for a change of direction, take on new challenges, get something positive happening.

        • Albert Lane

          Yes the only complaint we have is the cost of groceries. For instance, at any supermarket in the UK, you’ll pay 68 p for a kilo of bananas. That equates to about NZ$ 1.40 per kilo. We normally have to pay $2.99 in each of our two competing supermarkets in our our area. And we miss the lovely big apple pies that cost one pound over there ($2). But you can’t have it all. Unlike many in the UK, our beaches actually have real sand on them.

          • Wheninrome

            Bake your own big apple pies, much cheaper, just like making home made bread. The satisfaction is enormous, you know exactly what you have put into the food, and can tailor it to suit.

          • Albert Lane

            We love travelling around the UK. It’s not overly expensive, and rental cars are very reasonably priced. But we don’t have facilities to bake our own apple pies. We buy supermarket sandwiches for our lunch for as little as 1 pound for a pack, and two can share the apple pie. And that’s our lunch for 3 quid for the two of us ($6) plus coffee.

  • Hard1

    Asian style, oldies lived with their kids, although this is changing as western values (selfish intransigence) take hold. For some reason there is too mush conflict for New Zealanders to live in the same house with their parents.
    The new goldrush is retirement homes.

    • Wheninrome

      Or, god forbid, do as I am, 95 year old mother lives in her home, and we do all her hard work, rubbish, shopping, arranged a person to do her cleaning and changing of bed linen and washing once a week.
      She is as happy as can be when all your friends etc., have passed. Plenty of books, small garden.
      If she were suffering age related problems (small memory loss is all she has) maybe she would have to go into a resthome, to me that is the last “resort”.

  • Another Middleagedwhiteguy

    Two sorts of downsizing –
    Shift into a very expensive but pokey little flat and play mah-jong with your neighbours, or
    Shift to where the rates are lower and your neighbours are active and have fun.

  • Tom

    So lifer benes didn’t get a job or buy a home ever in their 50 years of working life ?
    All they ever did was put their hand out for a handout ?
    My brother in law fits perfectly into this group. 50 something years old and owns nothing.
    They deserve nothing.

    • Wheninrome

      He will get free resthome care, while others who saved PAY for the same care.

    • Michelle

      l know of a few people who retired at 50 and went on benefits and think the world owes them a living
      They think we are soooooooo lucky but they don’t see us working for what we have and what we went without to get it while they toodled off on holidays etc

      • Albert Lane

        I think that’s a bit unfair. It’s a known fact that if you’re in your 50’s and over, and you’re job hunting, you may never, ever be employed again. One of the causes of these problems is that young executives don’t like older and wiser people working for them – they’re a threat. One way around this is for older people who can’t get jobs in their field of expertise, is to de-skill their CV, which might enable them to get employment, but at a lower level of seniority than they really would have wished. But if it works, it’s a lot better than being on the scrap heap for the rest of your life. It would also be interesting to see the statistics for marriage break-ups in the older age bracket, which would mean that the marital assets (including home) would be split in half, and that it might be impossible for the older people to afford mortgages when they only have half the deposit for a home and no job security.

        • Michelle

          l am talking about people who turned 50 and quit their jobs and went on benefits like sickness but could paint house, climb on roof and do all things they did before and then moaned when they were means tested

          l understand the ones being made redundant and marriage break downs but ones who deliberately quit jobs and have no intention of working again but moan get my back up

          • Albert Lane

            Yes, I can see your argument. The Dept of Statistics has a survey called the Household Labour Force Survey, and it studies employment and unemployment trends in our society based on ILO (International Labour Organisation) standards. However, over the years since its initiation, personal circumstances in NZ have undergone huge changes, and it would be interesting if the questionnaire reflected these changes to our population so that we could react to any bubbles that have emerged. By the way, the HLFS is the official unemployment/employment survey in NZ, and the stats are based on international systems, so that the comparison between each country is based on identical data.

  • Aucky

    ‘Retirement’ is a state of mind. I have just hit 70 but still working for about 25-30 hours a week and plan on doing so for another five years when I will review my lifestyle once again. Getting to 65 meant nothing to me aside from the state providing me with a supplementary income which I don’t feel bad about because a) I am entitled to it and b) because I repay it all and then some by way of tax on my earnings. I started the ‘retirement’ process at 55 by voluntarily getting off the executive treadmill, getting healthy and restoring my work-life balance. At 60 I moved to a home office location and at 65 started to reduce my hours and indulged myself with a long weekend every week. Ageing is a gradual process and needs as much if not more planning in the mental area than becoming financially organised. I have seen so many colleagues retire at 65, stop work completely and within three years become old men.

    Message to middle-aged Oilers. Don’t fully give up your day job on hitting 65 and work on your health and developing some interests.

    • Wheninrome

      Or use your time fruitfully for the community. There are huge areas in the community that need wise, intelligent and hard working people.

      • Aucky

        I agree 101%. The social services network would collapse without the unpaid work input of tens of thousands of 65+ volunteers. CAB, Starship, hospitals, hospices, meals on wheels et al are very dependent on the input of the oft criticised aged ‘bludgers’.

  • Greg

    I plan on retiring in the Philippines, NZs living costs are rising out of proportion to wage rises, and no workers received 3.6% last year, its a struggle just renting an apartment.

  • Sticktotheknitting

    I think they are assuming all these oldies have no house to trade in for a smaller one. Silly thinking, all us oldies worked our butts off paying off the mortgage so we could downsize when the time came.
    I think putting several persons in the larger house and sharing the chores is a great idea. There won’t be anyone playing the drums.

  • a3catlady

    Ummm an increase is to be expected in any thing you care to point a finger at with the “aged” population. We keep hearing how many more of them there are, and to many sectors this is a marketers dream, so it is only to be expected that there will be an increase in actual numbers. I will believe we have a real problem when the percentage increases! Same old, same old, lies, lies and damn statistics!

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