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Elderly must feel safe in their own homes

Elderly must feel safe in their own homes

Monday February 13, 2012

Can you imagine being in your seventies or eighties and feeling unsafe in your home? Having to deal with graffiti and faeces in lifts and stairwells, intimidation from neighbouring tenants, excessive noise and slow repairs?

Age Concern New Zealand knows this is a reality for some older people living in rental accommodation.

The organisation’s National President, Liz Baxendine, is speaking out following the release of the New Zealand Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Housing Affordability.

Mrs Baxendine says New Zealand’s rental market is ill-equipped to cater for older people and more affordable, age-friendly rental housing is urgently needed.

She is pleased the Commission has shown a clear link between housing affordability and well-being and has paid attention to the housing needs of low-income people.

However, more must be done.

“We want the Commission to recommend local and central Government strengthen their involvement in the provision of social rental housing.

“For older people, social housing needs to be located in pleasant, safe surroundings close to amenities and public transport,” she says.

Home ownership in New Zealand is declining, which means New Zealand Superannuation is becoming increasingly difficult to survive on.

“It was pleasing the Commission noted the current level of Super is based on the assumption of high rates of mortgage-free home ownership, and this is changing.”

Mrs Baxendine also commends the Commission for recognising the financial strains faced by those who are ‘housing-rich and income-poor.’

“This is the situation many older New Zealanders find themselves in. For this group, housing affordability begins to ‘bite’ when fixed costs like rates and insurance increase, when the house needs essential repairs, or when adaptations are necessary in order to avoid or defer a move.”

Mrs Baxendine says downsizing, while frequently cited as a way of resolving the income and housing needs of older owner-occupiers, is by no means straightforward.

“It is clear age-friendly alternatives to home ownership must be investigated and developed. We hope the Commission will do this in its final report.”


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