New Zealand Labour Party

Seniors face housing hardship after Nats do nothing

The Government has done virtually no policy work and no serious thinking about the threat of housing hardship faced by older New Zealanders revealed today in the Salvation Army’s latest report, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“Labour asked the Minister for Senior Citizens Maggie Barry earlier this year what work the Government was doing in this area. She could only cite one project in Auckland the Government had given funding for, and said there were no government papers on increasing affordable housing for seniors.

“The Salvation Army has exposed a looming crisis: an aging population, falling rates of home-ownership and no increases in the building of state and social housing.

“The Government needs to listen up, and put its thinking cap on. The country faces the spectre of large numbers of people facing genuine housing hardship in their old age.

“You can live a modest but decent life on superannuation if you own your home mortgage free. If you are living on super in a private rental – especially in the expensive Auckland market – it can get very tough.

“We need to re-invent pensioner housing for the 21st Century. Older Kiwis would love to have low maintenance, secure, one and two bedroom homes that are close to the shops, designed for mobility access, and most of all affordable. But those kinds of homes are simply not being built in any numbers.

“Instead of pressuring Councils to sell their pensioner housing, the Government should make the Income Related Rent Subsidy available to Councils (it is now only available to Housing NZ and a small number of NGOs) and encourage them to provide more and better housing for senior citizens,” Phil Twyford says.