THERE are more than 307,000 Age Pensioners in Australia who rent privately and receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance. More than a third of those (104,000) live in NSW, where they are five per cent of the two million or so private renters.
Lack of affordable and secure rental housing is the most significant challenge for very low to middle income renters. This shows up in the statistics as, for example, a 37 per cent increase in homelessness in NSW and 14 per cent across Australia since the 2011 Census.
No doubt about it, private renters aged 65 and over live in poverty.
To make matters worse, private rentals are generally poorly insulated and too expensive to heat in winter or to cool in summer.
Housing needs the attention of both the NSW and Australian Governments.
Three newly elected NSW Government must develop a published strategy for social and affordable housing that es precise targets.
There are five things the Australian Government can do to fix the broken system and make sure everybody has a place to call home.
First, develop a National Housing Strategy to meet Australia’s identified shortfall of 500,000 social and affordable rental homes.
Second, remove tax breaks around housing and spend the increased tax take on housing.
Third, create nationally consistent protections against rent rises, discrimination and landlords who refuse to maintain properties.
Fourth, give immediate relief to people in housing stress by increasing rent assistance.
Fifth, set an end date for homelessness.
Decent housing is a basic need and a human right.