Subsidised community-based housing for State pensioners a gaping hole in national budget spend
It is heartening to see a drive for job creation including incentives for young jobseekers, rural development and farmer support, and an allocation of R8.9 billion for social security benefits translating into a State pension increase of R60 per month - bringing the grant to R1 140 per month.
While recognising that a R60 increase is welcome, Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (NOAH) would also like to point out that without access to safe and affordable housing social pensioners face a very difficult and precarious existence.
To demonstrate the practical difficulties older people face without subsidised community-based housing, we have contrasted a real life example of a resident at a NOAH home in Woodstock with a State pensioner without subsidised housing. The budgetary constraints of a pensioner without subsidised housing are alarming and highlight the economic vulnerability of older people in South Africa.
NOAH’s model of community-based housing (not currently subsidised by the Government) is an example of a housing model for fit older persons that has worked effectively for over thirty years.
Typical NOAH homes are ordinary houses on ordinary streets in ordinary communities. They run independently, with residents sharing rooms and daily household chores.
Each resident pays in the region of 15 percent of their pension as a service levy. This levy is used to pay ‘collective’ household services and costs.
Desiree is 69 years old and has lived in a NOAH home for three years. Her monthly expenses are as follow:
R85 - accommodation
R120 - municipal services
R30 - Includes access to a general practitioner, chronic medication delivered to the individual, monitoring and evaluation by a senior nursing practitioner.
R500 - Individual’s food and toiletries per month
R400 - spending money
Total: R1 135
Monthly expenses of a fit older person without subsidised community-based housing:
R1 000 - rental of room
R500 - purchase of food
R150 - electricity
R200 - transport for clinic visits
Total: R1 850
When asked how Desiree would live without a roof over her head (given her limited opportunities to stay with family members), she describes the situation as “disastrous and impossible. I would be homeless”.
This speaks to the stark reality of the housing shortage in South Africa and its effects on the most economically vulnerable population group: older persons. Unlike the youth, State pensioners are least likely to secure employment or an additional means to up their incomes.
Anne van Niekerk