HELP US: Our aged care housing crisis
A SHORTAGE of affordable housing for the aged is approaching a crisis says the head of a leading aged care provider in Grafton.
And the infrastructure program in the Clarence Valley was the major reason for it, said the chairman of Clarence Village Ltd, Geoff Shepherd.
Mr Shepherd said the increasing demand for housing from workers and rising rents were squeezing elderly residents out of the market.
"They're being forced into caravan parks or into accommodation that's not suitable for their needs," Mr Shepherd said.
He said this week an elderly person had come to his notice who desperately needed a suitable place to move into.
"He's in his 80s and is living in an upstairs unit," Mr Shepherd said. "His landlord has told him his rent will go up $15 this month and another $15 the following month.
"His son has been forced to stump up the extra rent money because there's no way he can afford to pay the increases."
Mr Shepherd said he had been disappointed with government inaction.
"About 18 months ago, when we opened Clarence Village we told (Clarence MP) Chris Gulaptis and (Page MP) Kevin Hogan this was sector of aged care housing was a problem.
"In that time it has got a lot worse and the government's infrastructure projects have created the problem."
He said Clarence Village has a plan to relieve the pressure.
"Clarence Village has a plan that can provide 22 residential aged care units for people who don't have enough capital behind them," Mr Shepherd said.
"We have $1million we can inject into the project, have the land to build the units on and a plan for the development.
"The government says it's looking for 'shovel ready' projects to put money into. Well this is one."
It is not just Mr Shepherd who has identified the problem. The Anglican Church's welfare arm, Anglicare said affordable housing was a growing concern for the Clarence Valley.
The former Bishop of Grafton, Sarah Macneil, has written to the NSW Government in support of Clarence Village.
"Grafton is a low socio-economic area and there is considerable need for such housing, particularly amongst the most vulnerable members of our society," she said.
Mr Shepherd said he was looking forward to bringing his concerns to deputy premier John Barilaro, during his time in the Clarence today and tomorrow.