Living on the margins: the capabilities of older renters in Sydney, Australia
Introduction Older Australians have one of the world’s highest rates of homeownership. In 2006 about 76.5 per cent of older Australians aged 65 plus owned their own home outright and another 5.4 per cent were homeowners with a mortgage (Jones 2011). This article concentrates on the 14.5 per cent of older Australians (65 plus) who are renters. About half of older renters are in public or community housing and approximately half are dependent on the private rental market. Noteworthy, is that 19 per cent of households occupied by an older single person, were rented; 11 per cent were in the private rental market and 8 per cent were in public housing (ABS 2008). Through the use of semi-structured in-depth interviews and utilizing the capabilities approach the life circumstances of older public and private renters in Sydney are explored and compared. The chapter first outlines the capabilities approach and the related concepts used in this chapter. The second section sketches the context, highlighting the respective policies in regards to rents and security of tenure and the rents paid in public housing and the private rental market in Sydney. The particular vulnerabilities of older renters are then outlined. The methodology for the chapter is then described prior to moving on to the primary objective of this chapter – an examination and comparison of the capabilities and functionings of older private and public renters.