The Salvation Army recently reported on the fifth of New Zealand who will be forced to be without their own home by the forces of unrestrained real estate capitalism.
In 2030, over 200,000 New Zealanders over 65 will not own their own home. Does anyone still remember when it was our emotional bedrock as a country, our savings bedrock, the basis on which every future generation could be handed their own real start in life? That was then.
We’ve gone through the great post-World War Two era of home ownership, and now it’s plummeting. It’s currently at 64% and falling fast.
By 2030 – just 15 years away – those over 65 will number 1.1 million. That’s 22% of us all. This is the Elderly Precariat, in which the risk of one major illness, one major job loss, one major marriage breakup, is more likely, and more irreversibly damaging for the rest of your life. In no small part because you run a very high risk of losing your house. 22% of us are risking that within 15 years.
Off-the-cuff solutions like “just downsize, why don’t you?’, roll off the tongue of the glib, and the real estate agents. Doesn’t work if you’ve got grandchildren needing a place (increasing), grown-up children who ‘forget to leave’ (increasing), or indeed the real prospect of loneliness and isolation of some tiny downsized village bereft of healthcare or networks, eking out the NZSuper in $5 per day increments. Plus, the shame of knowing you took your following generation downwards, not upwards.
There’s no government policy on this at all. It took the Salvation Army to study it and say it. They, not the government, are pointing the way.