It's well known younger people are struggling to buy their first home, but experts are today warning of a "significant crisis" facing older Australians already in the market.The pressures of carrying mortgages into retirement as well as finding suitable housing are leading to increased financial strain and even homelessness, according to the Council on the Ageing.
- Summit warns of looming housing crisis for older Australians
- Concern at number of people retiring with mortgages
- Rental prices and workplace age discrimination add pressure
- Concern at scarcity in social and community housing
COTA described older Australians as the "forgotten faces" of the housing debate and is today hosting a summit in Canberra alongside industry experts and policymakers to find a way to address the issue.
"If we're not doing something about it pretty soon then in 10 or 15 years we will be facing a really significant crisis," COTA chief executive Ian Yates told News Breakfast.
"We've seen some early warning signs."
Mr Yates said homelessness had risen amongst older people — particularly women — and it was not due to many of the factors of traditional homelessness.
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"It's an economic issue, a financial issue for people,' he said.
"We're seeing more people entering retirement with a mortgage, and we're seeing the rates of home ownership amongst retirees starting to decline.
"The projections are they'll decline quite dramatically in the next decade."The summit will consider six key issues that could hurt older Australians in the next two decades, including:
- Falling rates of home ownership;
- Rising rental prices and a hostile private rental property market;
- Scarcity in social and community housing;
- Increasing number of older Australians retiring with a mortgage;
- Rental housing not fit for or secure enough to meet the physical needs of older people; and,
- Inadequate supply of suitable housing for older people to downsize, while remaining in or close to their pre-existing community.
Rental pressure combine with age discriminationToday's summit will also look at the rental challenges facing older Australians.
The 2017 Rental Affordability Snapshot report by Anglicare found just 6 per cent of the market was affordable for a single older person living on the Age Pension.
"There is a whole group of people currently in their 50s and 60s who will be retiring as renters," Mr Yates said.
What's more, researched published by the University of South Australia earlier this year found age discrimination in the workplace was rife and workers over 50 are in the hardest age bracket to find a new job.
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"Unfortunately older Australians make up a very significant proportion of the long-term unemployed," Mr Yates said.
"So you've got people coming into retirement after years of financial stress."Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley is the keynote speaker at the summit and said change must begin now for there to be a "fighting chance" of turning the tide.
"We are dealing with a vastly different economic landscape than 10 years ago," he said.
"Policymakers must come up to speed with the key issues and trends in housing for older Australians, including re-evaluating assumptions about home ownership that underpin age pension policy."