Millennials are facing a homelessness crisis once they retire as the shortage in affordable housing reaches breaking point.
More than half a million people under 40 who are unable to afford to climb onto the housing ladder as they age will no longer be able to afford to rent privately in retirement, according to a new report.
The vast majority of people now aged over 64 own their own homes or live in social housing – only 5.6 per cent live in private rented accommodation. Because so many of today’s pensioners are homeowners, they are able to make ends meet in retirement because they have paid off their mortgages, despite their income halving once they no longer work.
But the number of people 64 and over who rent privately is expected to treble by 2046 – and at the same time, private rents are expected to continue to increase.
The All-Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People who are behind the report estimate that about 52 per cent of pensioners by 2038 will be paying more than 40 per cent of their income in rent – rendering private rent unaffordable for about 630,000 millennials in retirement.
“The number of households in the private rented sector headed by someone aged over 64 will more than treble over the next 25 to 30 years,” said Richard Best, the chair of the group. “But unless at least 21,000 suitable homes are built a year, there will be nowhere affordable for them to live. The consequence is bound to be homelessness for some.”
The number of older households who live in unsuitable or unfit accommodation is also expected to rise dramatically from 56,000 now to 236,000 in 30 years’ time. Such accommodation is links to tens of thousands of pensioner deaths – a shocking 53,000 winter deaths of elderly people in the last five years have been attributed to living in cold, poorly insulated homes.
Chief executive of housing charity Shelter Polly Neate said, “This country is failing to build social homes at the rate we need them, leaving older generations who missed the homeownership boat with little choice but to rent privately.
“On top of being notoriously expensive and unstable, too many privately rented homes simply aren’t up to scratch either – condemning older people to live out their retirement in places which are cold, damp or infested with mice,” she added.
The All-Parliamentary Group has called for strategy to avoid a future crisis of pensioner homelessness – the group’s proposals include building at least 38,000 rental homes each year over the next 30 years specifically for older people, which would amount to more than a million homes by the 2040s.
But Unite believes much more needs to be done to tackle the problem of future pensioner homelessness specifically and the housing crisis more generally.
“We need a dynamic housing policy like Unite’s that addresses everyone’s housing needs – that means plentiful council homes and social homes for those who need them as well as regulation of the private sector to protect tenants from being ripped off so that they don’t fall through the cracks,” said Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.
“The government must build its housing proposals around the fundamental idea that a decent, safe home is a human right, not a luxury reserved only for those who can put away a tens of thousands of pounds for a deposit – which these days, is vanishingly few.”