A think-tank’s report has recommended Australian housing policies to reflect the improved life expectancy and the latest psychology research on the country’s ageing society.
Per Capita’s new paper titled “The Head, the Heart and the House” argues that the problem in outdated housing policies is the “presumption that older Australians are rattling around in houses that are too big for them and that downsizing is the only option”.
The study claims many Australians still opt to stay in their homes when they reach a certain age.
It further argued that funding policies for retirees in the country “do not adequately accommodate those who do not own their homes outright, or those who rent”.
In fact, recent data reveals more older Australians are choosing to live in outer metropolitan areas than ever before. The number of people aged 65 who preferred homes in the outer suburbs were quadrupling between 1971 and 1991. The figures doubled again by 2011.
Moreover, home ownership for people aged over 65 is high at 82%, but this also means more of the future aged Australians will be in mortgage debt or rental arrangements. It is expected that there will be more demands for affordable and life-long housing by then.
To address these future needs, Per Capita suggests the creation of a government grant scheme that can be used to "retrofit" existing homes to adapt them to peoples' needs as they grow old. This may help people to continue to live in their homes without "downsizing".
Per Capita also proposes the use of government bonds to fund affordable renting housing stock for older Australians.
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