Struggle Street: high rents hitting elderly hard
A PENSIONER struggling to find affordable rent said she can understand why others like her forgo things like electricity due to the rising cost of housing.
For Val Wilson, 79, the Military Jetty Caravan Park in Golden Beach is home, but since council found structural defects in her caravan and annex which she couldn't afford to fix, the hunt has been on for alternative low-cost accommodation.
Although the Department of Housing has helped her search for a new place to lay her head, Ms Wilson said the high price of rent made things difficult.
She found a place she was interested in, only to be told by the department she couldn't afford it.
"I'm a single pensioner and most of the single pensioners would be on the same income as I am, so it makes it very difficult when they say you're low income," Ms Wilson said.
"I'm just finding it a little bit difficult to find something within my budget - I don't really want to go to $300 a week."
Ms Wilson said the cheapest one-bedroom home she'd managed to find was $335.
The prospect of paying more than half of her fortnightly income on rent is daunting to Ms Wilson, but if push comes to shove it's what she'll have to do.
"If I have to do it, I'm going to have to do it - but it's not a good lifestyle," she said.
"It'll be a matter of paying your rent, putting a bit of petrol in the car and that's it."
Caravan parks have long been a popular low-cost housing alternative for retirees with the rent at Military Jetty cheap enough for Ms Wilson to "live a decent life".
But she said not everyone was lucky enough to have that option.
"You can understand why they (pensioners) sit in the dark, or they sit with a rug wrapped around them - because they can't afford it.
"Everything goes up and up and up, but our pensions don't go up."
Despite calling Golden Beach home for the past six years, Ms Wilson said she would have to look for accommodation towards Brisbane as the rent is cheaper - although finding somewhere she can stay indefinitely also presents a hurdle.
"I'll be 80 in November and I'm really not at the age where I can deal with all this stuff," she said.
"I don't want to take on anything then be there for 12 months and the people who own the unit say 'we're sorry, you have to leave, we're going to sell'.
"I need to get into something where I know that's it."