How will you pay rent when you retire? Vincent Browne launches ALONE housing campaign
Dublin, 27th March 2018 ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the hidden housing crisis among older people. The organisation is calling on the Government to provide funding towards developing a new, age-friendly model of housing and to update Rebuilding Ireland to reflect the needs of an ageing Ireland.
At the launch of the campaign, former broadcaster and journalist Vincent Browne urged the government to prioritise housing for older people, “I am here today to support ALONE as they work to prevent the housing crisis faced by older people from becoming a homelessness crisis. With the number of over 65s set to increase dramatically in the next couple of decades, the situation for older people trying to secure rented and lifetime accommodation is set to get worse!”
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented, “As people age, they can often no longer afford to rent. Rents are currently exceeding their former peak in 2008. The contributory state pension is €1,032.63 per month, but average market rent in Ireland is €1,227. At the moment, an older person relying on their contributory pension can’t afford to rent a home. There is an assumption within the pensions system that older people do not need to rent or do not have accommodation costs, yet in 2016, there were 15,883 people over 60 in the private rental sector.”
ALONE’s campaign also highlights the falling rates of home ownership in Ireland which will impact the housing crisis further as the population ages. In 2016 there were 876,423 people aged over 60 living in Ireland. By 2031 it is estimated that this will grow to 1.42 million. ALONE believes that the problems older people face in obtaining rented and lifetime accommodation will only get worse unless action is taken.
Moynihan continued, “The housing crisis will only get worse as our population ages. The current generation can’t buy homes, but if nothing changes, huge numbers won’t be able to afford to rent as they age either. The private rental market is not suitable long-term for older people. Rented properties offer little security of tenancy and, in the current competitive rental market, we have heard from older people who are afraid to tell their landlord about issues with their accommodation in case their rent is increased. For most people when they retire, they lose 60% of their income.The thousands of older people who retire every year in private rented accommodation face a very uncertain future.”
ALONE works every day with older people who are losing their homes in the private rented sector, whose homes are unsuitable for them to live in, or who are homelesss. “We have begun to find occasions where we can’t provide a solution to some of the housing problems older people face, because appropriate rental accommodation and social housing is not available. From late 2015 to early 2018 the number of housing applications received by ALONE more than doubled. ALONE receive 20 applications for every house available, and there are 174 people currently on our waiting list. In terms of housing, our resources are stretched to maximum capacity,” said Moynihan.
Moynihan concluded, “We are calling on the Government to engage with ALONE and its partners in the Age Alliance to meet the commitments outlined in the National Positive Ageing Strategy since 2013, and to update Rebuilding Ireland to reflect the needs of an ageing Ireland. If nothing changes, the housing crisis is only going to get worse for older people. We need to act now to prevent a homelessness crisis among the over-60s, now and in the years to come.”
For those who have concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, ALONE can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 or visit www.alone.ie.
Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home. ALONE works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing. ALONE provides Support Coordination, Housing with Support, Befriending and Campaigning services to over 1,000 older people nationwide every week. ALONE’s services are quality approved and are delivered 365 days a year.