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Tenure insecurity, precarious housing and hidden homelessness among older renters in New Zealand

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Housing Studies, 37(3), 483-505

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This study explores the increasing concern of homelessness among older individuals in New Zealand, a phenomenon that is gaining traction in various western countries.

The research focuses on a subset of 108 tenants aged 55 and older, drawn from a broader project, with nineteen participants having experienced homelessness within the last five years. Homelessness, as defined by Statistics New Zealand, encompasses situations ranging from residing in temporary housing and sharing accommodations temporarily, to living in uninhabitable dwellings or being completely without shelter. The paper delves into the precursors to homelessness for these individuals, their living conditions during periods of homelessness, and the pathways they found out of such circumstances. Additionally, it presents national data on the trends of renting among older demographics to contextualise the issue further. The findings highlight the crucial role that tenure insecurity plays in the lives of older tenants, exacerbated by factors such as unaffordable rents, the possibility of no-cause termination, substandard dwelling conditions, and housing that does not meet the needs of an ageing population. This study argues that these challenges are symptomatic of New Zealand’s under-regulated rental market, posing significant risks of homelessness for older individuals.

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