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

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Homelessness among older people is growing in western countries including New Zealand.

The rise in renting among middle-aged and older people highlights tenure insecurity and the risk of homelessness for the first time in later life. We report on a dataset drawn from a larger project in which 108 tenants aged 55 and older were interviewed. Of those, nineteen had experienced homelessness (as defined by Statistics New Zealand) within the previous five years, including residing in temporary housing, temporarily sharing accommodation, living in uninhabitable dwellings, and being without shelter. We examine factors precipitating participants’ homelessness, their living environments, and pathways out of homelessness. National data on renting trends among older age groups are also presented. The paper argues that homelessness risk is central to older tenants’ experience of New Zealand’s under-regulated rental market. We conclude that within this context, tenure insecurity is generated through unaffordable rents, no-cause termination, poor dwelling condition and housing that is unsuitable for an ageing population.

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