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As the property market continues to climb, the ability for people living on moderate to low incomes to achieve homeownership becomes increasingly out of reach, especially for older single women, single parents and key workers.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, older women—those aged 55 and over— are the fastest-growing cohort of homeless Australians, and given the ongoing shortage of affordable housing, our ageing population, and the significant gap in wealth accumulation between men and women across their lifetimes, this trend is set to continue.
Many of the concerns about financial insecurity centre around the ability to secure and own a home in retirement. This is the case for Vivienne Thomas, who signed up to become a resident of 15 Thompson St, Kensington to address this concern.
“After separating from my partner in the last few years, I worried I may not be able to access a home loan to purchase a property by myself, due to my age, earning capacity and personal circumstances.”
“With Assemble, I like the fact I am not locked into anything long-term if I find things change, which they inevitably do. I like the idea of living in a like-minded community, where people may be around for help and support if needed – as I am a single parent and sometimes living on my own is a bit disconcerting.”
AustralianSuper invested in Assemble because they see that the Build to Rent to Own Model assists in providing dignity in retirement through an alternative, supported pathway to homeownership.
Healthcare worker, Deanne Roy, a future resident of 15 Thompson St, Kensington, recognised that the Model would assist her and her family in achieving financial security in retirement.
“Although I feel financially secure today, I am very concerned that we would not be financially secure if we did not purchase a home and clear the mortgage before we retire,” said Deanne.
The ABC’s popular Australia Talks National Survey 2021 noted that six out of ten of us consider being able to retire comfortably a potential challenge in the future, while about nine out of 10 of us consider it a national problem that must be addressed.
The survey also highlighted that women are more likely to be worried about having a comfortable retirement than men, with 52% revealing it is very much a problem, compared to 41% of the men that participated in the survey.
These statistics are not surprising considering women are more likely to pause their careers to take on caring responsibilities or work part-time. The majority of the concerns around having a secure, comfortable retirement is whether or not you’re a homeowner.
Many of the forecasts by our treasury and super funds on retirement income estimates – that is, how much you need to retire comfortably – are often based on you owning your own home by the time you retire at 65. With homeownership declining, especially among ageing women, it comes as no surprise that we are concerned about our future.
Our Assemble Futures model is our response to the very real challenge of homeownership in Australian cities and bridges the gap between renting and owning your own home.
AustralianSuper reviewed a number of affordable housing models and believes that Assemble offers a sustainable and scalable model that can offer housing security to working Australians.
As part of the Assemble Futures program, all residents are provided with free financial coaching and support, from the time they sign their lease and throughout the entire seven-year program. The coaching helps residents improve their financial literacy and wellbeing so homeownership can be achieved.
Assemble’s Financial Coach, Sarah Matzouranis, believes that it is important, especially for women, in starting today to cultivate their ideal retirement future: “Our homeownership model provides a supported pathway to assist in their savings journey and gives them confidence they will be able to own their home by the time they retire,” said Sarah.
Future residents of 393 Macaulay Rd and 15 Thompson St, Kensington are currently working through the financial coaching program with Sarah and are seeing results, which are positively affecting all aspects of their lives.
“It provided us with clarity and focus around our money. We feel more informed and empowered. Our goals now seem achievable when previously they seemed increasingly out of reach,” said one Assemble Futures resident of their experience.
 Source – Australian Human Rights Commission – Risk of Homelessness in Older Women: https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/age-discrimination/projects/risk-homelessness-older-women