Government must act on housing for older people, say ALONE and Threshold

  • Charities set out 12 recommendations to address deficits in the private rental sector for older renters in their published report Double Deficit.
  • ALONE reports a 40% increase in older people experiencing housing difficulties in 2023 compared to the previous year.

National charities ALONE and Threshold will today tell TDs and Senators in Leinster House that actions must be taken without delay to ensure older people have access to suitable, secure and affordable housing.

Both charities report working with increasing numbers of older people experiencing housing difficulties, including notices to quit, increasing rent costs, poor housing conditions and homelessness.

The organisations released a report last May, Double Deficit, which provides new evidence about the reality which has been experienced by older renters for many years. ALONE and Threshold highlight that the recommendations from the report must be actioned urgently, as the number of older people in private rental accommodation has almost doubled between the 2016 and 2022 Census figures, home ownership is falling, and homelessness among older people continues to increase. 

The report, Double Deficit, found that older renters faced a double deficit: a deficit in the private rental sector in being able to meet their needs in terms of accommodation choice, affordability, suitability, quality and security and undermining the personal agency of older and ageing people, as well as a strategic deficit, or the absence of a data-informed approach to planning for the accommodation of a rapidly growing cohort. The study contends that, in the context of Ireland’s current housing crisis, the absence of data and planning for older people’s accommodation is an immediate problem that requires an urgent, strategic response at national and local levels.

ALONE reports a 40% increase in older people experiencing housing difficulties in 2023 compared to the previous year.

“It is particularly surprising to us that although additional funding was provided for Housing Adaptation Grants in Budget 2024, the long-awaited review of the grants has not been published. The Department originally committed to publishing the waiting lists for the grants by the end of 2019. More than four years on, this has not been done. A review into the grants was then to be published by the end of 2022. This has not been published either,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “Older people use these grants for works such as adapting their shower facilities, installing central heating, putting in stairlifts and other vital works. 60% of people use the grants for bathroom adaptations and this is where most falls happen. It is beyond belief that people are at times waiting more than a year to do this necessary work. While the focus in housing is mostly about first time buyers, practical things can be done to improve housing for older people now.”

Ann-Marie O’Reilly, National Advocacy Manager at Threshold commented, stating:

“The Census data tells us that the number of people over 65 renting from a private landlord increased by 83% between 2016 and 2022. That is almost 7,700 additional renters over 65 living in the private rental sector, which, in its current form, is not suitable for ageing and older renters, as shown by the research. To realise the recommendations in this report and to make certain that this Government, and all future governments, are committed to ensuring that all, young and old, have a secure, affordable place to call home, the right to housing must be enshrined in our Constitution. In particular, this will be an important catalyst to realise many of the recommendations in this report to ensure older people can live with security and dignity in their homes.”

Following the research process, the Double Deficit authors provided 12 key recommendations to improve housing options for older people and to ensure the private rental sector is a tenancy of choice for older and ageing renters. These recommendations include:

  • Ensure 25% of social housing is for older people
  • Continue to invest in the Housing Adaption Grant Scheme and provide incentives for private landlords to access
  • Ensure the adequacy of the State Pension

Double Deficit: Older and Ageing Persons in the Irish Private Rental Sector is available on both Threshold and ALONE websites.

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