Barry Saunders, caretaker of Talbot Estate on Lion Creek Rd, believes the non-profit seniors independent living estate should be expanded.
Barry Saunders, caretaker of Talbot Estate on Lion Creek Rd, believes the non-profit seniors independent living estate should be expanded. Sharyn Oneill

Back to the future to fix rent crisis

THE key to easing cost of living pressures on Rockhampton's older population could lie in expanding an existing non-profit accommodation service in the city.

Established in 1957 by then-mayor Rex Pilbeam, today Rockhampton's Talbot Estate provides affordable, independent housing for more than 100 older people.

It is run under a non-profit trustee system, and president Tom Wyatt, committee member Brad Keyworth and caretaker Barry Saunders all agree the estate has been a long overlooked solution to high accommodation costs for pensioners.

The estate on Lion Creek Rd has 79 units and cottages, at a weekly price of just $70 for singles and $120 for couples.

That was a stark contrast to the rising rental costs of a two-bedroom flat in town, which, says social services lobby group Australians for Affordable Housing, has increased 14% to $250 a week in the year to December 2011.

Mr Saunders said the units were in high demand, with a list of more than 20 older couples and about 20 single pensioners awaiting a home there.

Mr Wyatt said the model that was established by Mr Pilbeam had served the organisation for many years, but despite already having the space and plans to expand, more cash was needed to make it a reality.

He said the committee was already working towards getting the organisation incorporated, which is essential to be able to win any government grants.

"What have here is unique for Queensland, and I think probably unique for anywhere, that we have minor service costs with the council, and can supply affordable housing to so many," Mr Wyatt said.

"The cost of living pressures in the older community are always increasing, and I think our model could be expanded here to ease the housing burden, but could also be used in other parts of the state as well."

A small "entry fee" of $500 is charged to new residents, in place of a bond, and each unit or cottage comes with its own yard for residents to create a garden, which Mr Saunders says, helps create pride among residents in the small community.

Mr Keyworth said: "We need to provide more affordable housing for pensioners and the elderly, and this really gives them a great quality of life that they have trouble affording elsewhere."

 

RENT RISES

  • Rent for a two-bedroom flat in Rockhampton rose 14% to $250 a week since December 2010.
  • Rent for a three-bedroom house in Rockhampton rose 8% to $325 a week since December 2010.
  • Rent for a two-bedroom house in Gladstone rose 46% to $350 a week since December 2010.
  • Rent for a three-bedroom house in Gladstone rose 44% to $460 a week since December 2010.

Source: Australians for Affordable Housing.



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