AFFORDABLE HOUSING: We are the frontrunners for the crisis in affordable housing, but what about the people who are coming behind?
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: We are the frontrunners for the crisis in affordable housing, but what about the people who are coming behind? Home at Last

Peter is a front-runner to affordable housing crisis

AT the age of almost 74 Peter Montgomery believes his age cohort are the fore runners to a major affordable housing crisis in Australia.

"The government are talking about the demographics of the ageing population, but they don't appear to be addressing any of the related issues that are starting to emerge," Peter said.

"At our age, we are the front runners. But what about the ones that are coming behind? They're not all going to be financially independent."

Peter is living his own crisis now. He and his wife Barbara exist on a part-pension plus he runs a small business which helps pay for the house they have to rent, plus food and "spiralling utility costs".

"Renting is hugely expensive. If we were on the aged pension only, we would be paying around 70% of it on rent," Peter said.

He is also caught in the middle of a family health crisis and without funds to buy a home, it's a daily battle to keep he and his wife's head above the tideline.

In his early '60s and with his wife diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, Peter decided to sell the family home in Queensland, which gave him enough money to pay out all his debts including a mortgage and buy a caravan which he and his wife could live in.

"We had a huge back-debt on the mortgage, which I cleared, but having cleared it, it meant that we were cleaned out. Then we did the sums and worked out we longer could afford to keep it," Peter said.

Peter and Barbara then moved to Victoria where most of his family lived and spent 18 months in the caravan.

The proud former farmer struggled with the confined environment so the couple settled into a rented house for 12 months. When it came time to renew the lease he discovered how insecure renting can be. The owner wanted the house back to demolish and build units on the site.

"So we had to move again," he said. The next house he rented for just over 12 years until the owner died, the family of the deceased took possession and promptly told Peter to move out.

He calls it "investor determination".

"People buy a property, lease it out for a while, and renters think they are secure. But no; they're not because the lease isn't going to be renewed because the owners are going to demolish the house and put units on it."

When pursuing another rental property Peter said he experienced overt age discrimination. While the agent wouldn't say it out loud, Peter voiced it for her. "I said there is no way in God's earth that we can be that bad a tenant, so can I say to you it's got a lot to do with our age?".

His other accommodation choice is public housing, but he expects to wait at least six years for it to become available.

"I suggest that it's been at least 20 years since there was in any state a major building project for community housing that met specific needs,” Peter said.

"I am doing alright because I am working and I am reasonably healthy, but what about the poor people may have been in a house as long as us, are older than us, and that get the same notice to vacate. They might not have a family that can help them or they might not be able to raise the bond for the next property, where do they go?

"They're the forgotten people."

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