Elderly in rent trap

Avis Jones with Muriel and Bill Smith outside their South Mackay units.
Avis Jones with Muriel and Bill Smith outside their South Mackay units. Nat Bromhead

ELDERLY citizens say it is high time the issue of affordable housing was made an election priority.

Bill and Muriel Smith, along with neighbour Avis Jones, are concerned about becoming homeless as Mackay's rental prices soar.

Their lease up in May, and South Mackay unit block for sale, the Smiths are worried.

"Rents in Mackay are from $330 to $1200 per week," Mrs Smith said.

"Even if we had to pay $250 per week, that'd be half our pension."

Mrs Smith said her landlord had been very understanding and kept the rent low to help the residents.

The solution, Mrs Smith said, was more affordable housing for pensioners.

Neighbour Avis Jones is in a similar position.

At 81, she wants to continue to live alone.

"There is no low-income housing around," she said.

"Older people are getting the raw end of the deal."

John Kerslake, the LNP candidate for Mackay, said residents found themselves in a Catch 22 situation.

"You can't get government housing until you can't afford your rent, or are homeless," he said.

Mr Kerslake said the problem was due to failed policies and lack of planning for growth in Mackay and the Bowen Basin.

Mackay battlers needed relief from the spiralling cost of living, he said.

"They fear they may be subject to a massive rental increase under new ownership," he said.

"Where do the battlers go?"

Muriel Smith summed it up by saying, "it doesn't pay to get old".

Topics:  affordable housing queensland election 2012 rental properties

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