Alone urges strategy for older people in need of housing support

Charity says monthly rent in private sector is now outstripping contributory State pension

Older people who have experienced housing difficulties in recent months Christopher Jackson (67),Titi-Rose Thompson (67), Noel Murphy (71) at the Alone campaign launch outside the Dáil. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Older people who have experienced housing difficulties in recent months Christopher Jackson (67),Titi-Rose Thompson (67), Noel Murphy (71) at the Alone campaign launch outside the Dáil. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Government must do more to “plan for a big increase in older people needing housing support”, a leading charity in the sector has warned.

Alone (A Little Offering Never Ends), is spearheading a campaign which poses the question: “How will you pay the rent when you retire?”

Many people of working age renting in the private sector will be vulnerable to losing their homes when they retire, according to Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan . “As people age they often can no longer afford to rent. Rents are now exceeding their former peak in 2008.”

While the average rent is now €1,277 per month, the contributory State pension is €1,032.63 per month, he said.

The Government’s housing strategy, Rebuilding Ireland, did not adequately recognise this, he said. “There seems to be an assumption within this plan and within the pension system that older people do not rent or don’t have accommodation costs. And yet in 2016 there were 15,883 people over 60 renting in the private sector.”

This was certain to increase, not only as the number of people in the private sector increased, but as the number of older people increased – from 876,423 in 2016 to a projected 1.42 million by 2031.

Asked if the number of older people coming to Alone seeking help finding housing had increased in recent years, he replied that it been huge. “We have 150 houses and apartments in Dublin and 180 people on our waiting list.”

Titi-Rose Thompson: living in a single room in Dublin, the rent for which is €350 per month. Photograph: Tom Honan
Titi-Rose Thompson lives in a single room in Dublin, the rent for which is €350 per month. Photograph: Tom Honan

Among those waiting is Titi-Rose Thompson (68), originally from Peckham, London and now living in a single room in Dublin. Her’s is one of seven such “flats” in a Dublin 7 house. Her rent is €350 per month. “That house is so cold, so damp. There is no central heating,” she said.

Ms Thompson came to Ireland to follow her daughter who had a child here almost 20 years ago . “ I worked for Oxfam and I was looking after children too.”

At the start of March she, and the other tenants, received notice that the house was being sold. Viewings have been taking place twice a week since.

She is worried about losing her home and also about her health due to the living conditions. In a letter supporting her application for social housing, her doctor noted she has hypotension, severe arthritis, “degenerative changes in her right ankle” and is in a lot of pain. These are “worsened by the damp, cold and mouldy conditions”.

“I am worried about my situation yes. I hope I will be able to find somewhere warm and nice, and not have to move again,” she said.

Alone is calling on the Government to “to engage with Alone and its partners in the Age Alliance to meet the commitment in the National Positive Ageing Strategy since 2013 and to update Rebuilding Ireland to reflect the needs of an ageing population. We need to act now to prevent a homelessness crisis among the over 60s, now and in years to come.”