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Retirement communities: a solution to Australia’s housing crisis?


The Australian Government has been urged to consider retirement communities as a significant contributor towards meeting the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) target of constructing 1.2 million new homes by 2029. This recommendation comes from the Retirement Living Council (RLC), which has proposed this strategy, among others, in its submission to the government ahead of the May Budget. Daniel Gannon, the Executive Director of the RLC, emphasized the crucial role that retirement communities could play in addressing the housing supply issue, given Australia’s aging population.

“Retirement communities can help shift the housing supply dial as Australia’s population continues to age,” Gannon remarked. He further asserted the ambitious nature of the Prime Minister’s new homes target but believed retirement communities could facilitate reaching this objective as the nation’s demographic ages. Gannon highlighted the dual benefits of retirement villages, pointing out that they “can delay entry into taxpayer funded aged care facilities through purpose-designed, happier and healthier communities.”

Gannon encouraged the inclusion of retirement units, which are recognized by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as official dwellings, in the government’s HAFF targets. This suggestion comes amidst projections indicating a significant increase in the Australian population aged over 75, from two million to 3.4 million by 2040. According to Gannon, government decisions must promote and encourage the supply of more retirement housing, instead of restricting it.

The RLC’s analysis reveals that the 75–79-year-old age group is experiencing the highest growth rate, at an annual 6.6 percent, outrunning all other demographic cohorts. To meet the current demand from older Australians by 2030, the retirement industry needs to construct 67,000 homes, of which only 18,000 are currently planned. “These 67,000 homes would represent six per cent of the 1.2 million new homes target, meaning retirement communities can help the government solve Australia’s housing supply problem,” Gannon noted.

Furthermore, a report by the RLC titled ‘Better Housing for Better Health’ showcases the positive impact of retirement villages on the Australian economy and the well-being of their residents. The report indicates that retirement communities are contributing to nearly a $1 billion annual saving for taxpayers by reducing the need for aged care services. It also outlines the health benefits for residents, including higher happiness levels, increased physical activity, decreased depression and loneliness, and a 20 percent reduction in the likelihood of hospitalization after nine months.

View the RLC’s full Federal Budget submission here.

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