Many pensioners face homelessness, says UK charity [Shelter] FWD

Tom Boland (
Sat, 7 Feb 1998 04:39:34 -0800 (PST)
=46WD   BBC News [UK]   December 16, 1997

Retirement offers no comfort to thousands of
pensioners on the brink of homelessness

Thousands of pensioners are facing homelessness, bad housing and problems
meeting housing bills, according to the homeless charity Shelter.

New figures show that 30% of over-60s who go to Shelter for help have no
roof over their heads or face losing their home within the next month.

The charity claims the statistics, based on a survey of 3,000 pensioners
who went to its advice centres in 1996/7, dispel the myth that retirement
offers an end to housing worries.

The figures also show:

One in four pensioners have severe difficulties affording their housing
costs, compared with one in six under the age of 60. Twice as many over 60s
live in bad housing conditions compared with under 60s - 12% compared with
6%. Problems such as overcrowding and chronic disrepair were rife. Marked
differences in the level of homelessness between rural and urban areas. In
London and the South East 30% of over 60s faced homelessness with the main
problem being a lack of adequate accommodation. However, in Taunton and
Somerset 15% of pensioners faced losing their home and the main problems
were isolation and disrepair.

The Director of Shelter, Chris Holmes, said: "It is totally unacceptable
that older people live in appalling conditions or in fear of losing their
home. This new evidence highlights the extreme vulnerability that older
people face if they are unlucky enough to enter retirement without secure
housing, sufficient savings or a strong network of family support.

"It's in the best interest of all of us to ensure that sufficient housing
support is available to people in retirement. After all, growing old is a
certainty for most of us."

The new figures are part of a campaign by the charity to raise awareness of
the housing problems faced by people over 60. Shelter says the Government,
local authorities and housing associations need to develop a range of
housing schemes, such as supported accommodation in order to provide decent
homes for older people.

A spokesman from the Department of the Environment said: "The Government
recognises the importance of tackling bad housing conditions and has
already made a start to improve the quality of social housing and to
strengthen the protection provided for homeless people.

"An additional =A3800 million - to be spent on housing and housing-related
regeneration works - will be made available under the Capital Receipts
Initiative over the next 18 months for local authorities in England. The
Government is conducting a comprehensive spending review to ensure that
housing programmes are better targeted and that the underlying reasons for
homelessness are tackled,"
he added.


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