The Guardian recently published an expose that sought to re-frame housing affordability as not simple an issue for first home buyers and young people but an emerging crisis for the elderly, with 15,000 seniors now homeless in Australia.

“Private rental accommodation is now more unaffordable than owner-occupied. This leaves many older people, particularly widows, vulnerable.”

This problem is something we have been thinking about a lot at TACSI as part of our Innovation Age work. We have two current prototypes testing new policy that increases the affordability, desirability and sustainability of private rental as we age and home sharing for older single women, including a new social enterprise that is being co-designed with Baby Boomers that will facilitate the conditions for peers to find the right match to live together.

The Big Question is, How might we create suitable and sustainable housing options for Australian Baby Boomers?

The Challenge

Home has come up repeatedly as being at the heart of what it means to age well. It creates a locus of community, physical and emotional security and a crucial sense of belonging. Home is a fundamental need of our wellbeing as we age. It is an asset, a gateway and a form of expression.

But what if you can’t find a home that suits your needs? What if, as is the case for many older Australians, you don’t own your own home and have limited retirement income?

Currently 18% of the 5.3 million Baby Boomers rent and this percentage is on the increase.

For a couple on a pension 3.9% of properties are affordable. For a single person on the pension 0.9% of properties are affordable.

We set out to understand how development of the private rental market might offer more secure, suitable and sustainable housing for people as they age.

Motivated by the building pressure on Australian housing stock and the challenges facing Baby Boomers as they age, we have explored system-wide solutions and are now excited to be testing a new set of policy prototypes we believe can create positive change for Australians as they age. We are calling these prototypes Reliable Rentals.

Reliable Rentals

One piece of this work is about improving the landlord/tenant relationship. We are prototyping new tenancy agreements which give older renters more secure tenure in their houses, greater ability to make improvements and share their identify via their home and a process for tenants and landlords to negotiate modifications and costs to each party, prioritised by tenant need, which makes it easier for people to age in place and remain in the property.

We are also looking at how older renters can find peers who want to share a home in the long-term, so rental accommodation can take on more of the stability and certainty of a home you own.

This project is called Our Space.

Our Space

Co-designed by a group of people interested in Home Sharing, “Our Space” brings together a set of tools and interactions mediated by peers in order to facilitate the conditions for people to find their best compatible housemate.

What’s in it for you?

  • Meet a group of people interested in sharing a home;
  • Talk to a peer and using a set of tools to reflect on which are your preferences when it comes to sharing a home;
  • Explore the options of moving in together with the people you meet;
  • Access tools to agree on the basics of home sharing before moving in together;
  • Access peer support as challenges arise sharing a home.

The process has six stages:

As one of our co-design participants said, “I don’t want to live on my own. It’s not comfortable. The cat and I have these long conversations and she’s really not interested. I would be happy to have someone to share because then I could talk to people”

Check out more about Our Space here and contact us if you’d like to get involved!