Sydney housing costs drive older people north

Older people on low or fixed incomes are increasingly moving from Sydney to areas like the North Coast in the hope of obtaining affordable housing.


CEO of COTA NSW, Ian Day said, “One in ten people over 80 are renting in the private housing market.


“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.”


“Our survey found 20% of people whose main source of income is the age pension were renting. This is extremely worrying, 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.”


Nearly 40% of the respondents to the COTA survey who resided on the North Coast were living on the age pension. In contrast to Sydney, the region offers a wider range of affordable housing options, including residential parks and retirement villages.


Almost 33% of those who lived in residential parks were from the North Coast, and almost 16% of those who lived in retirement villages were from the region.


Many people on low and fixed incomes are facing a reality where they will in effect be ‘forced to move’ as they age because of the dearth of low-cost housing in the State’s capital.


Mr Day said, “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.


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


“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.


“Almost 43% of all electors in NSW are aged 50 and over. We’re talking about nearly 2.5 million people. It’s time for the needs of older people to become a policy and planning priority,” Mr Day concluded.


17 March 2015.