Homeless baby boomers

Dec 1, 2015 | Research

The organisation has released new research estimating that by 2030, 200,000 retirement-aged people won’t own a house and will be unable to afford rent.

Over the next decade, the numbers needing state help to cover their rent was expected to rise considerably: from 35,000 this year to 100,000 by 2025.

“We risk discovering that New Zealand is going to have a population of homeless pensioners,” Salvation Army spokeswoman Sue Hay told Radio New Zealand.

The report says: “Australian housing researchers are reporting increasing incidents of what they term first time homelessness amongst people in their later-middle age or early retirement years.

“These are people who have held down jobs and led fairly conventional lives until an event such as relationship breakdown, redundancy, injury or a health setback means that they lose their housing and perhaps income. They become street homeless and destitute.”

Research director for the Wellington-based social research group Cresa, Kay Saville-Smith, said the problem the report identified was merely a taste of things to come.

“In general, baby boomers are actually quite well-housed – and so the lesson you get from baby boomers who are not well-housed … provides a picture of what it’s going to be like for the cohorts and the generations that haven’t been able to get into home ownership.”

The report’s recommendations were things that should be done, but they were also too reactive to deal with the future problem, Ms Saville-Smith said.

“You have to really think about how you can raise the rate of home ownership again, but you also have to think about how you’re going to make … the rental market in particular, work for the increasing number of people who are going to end up in the rental market for all of their lives.”

Go to the Radio New Zealand report here. Read the report here.

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