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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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