Thu, Sep 11, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Help elderly on housing: groups

HOUSING DISCRIMINATION:A survey found that only 9 percent of landlords said that they would rent to elderly people, and only 1 percent would to those who are single

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Representatives of social groups hold a joint press conference with Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chieh-ju, second left, in Taipei yesterday, calling on the government to address elderly people’s housing problems.

Photo: Chou Si-yu, Taipei Times

Civic groups yesterday protested against the government’s housing policies, urging it to help the nation’s elderly people rent housing because they are often discriminated against.

“Many landlords are reluctant to rent their houses to elderly people, worrying that they may be involved in emergency situations more frequently. However, we must protest that even the government is very unfriendly toward older people when it comes to housing,” Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly secretary-general Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) told a press conference at the legislature. “In both Taipei and New Taipei City, the age requirement to qualify for a social housing unit is 20 to 45 years old, which excludes senior citizens.”

Even where there are a few senior housing estates in Taipei, the rent may not be affordable for many, Wu said.

“For example, the monthly rent for Zhulun Senior Apartments in Taipei is NT$18,000 [US$600], and if expenses for food are added, the monthly cost of living for a senior citizen can reach up to NT$22,000 a month,” Wu said. “That cost is already unaffordable for many working young people, never mind economically disadvantaged senior citizens who need to rent a senior apartment.”

Social Housing Advocacy Consortium vice president Lu Ping-yi (呂秉怡) agreed, saying that according to a survey by the Tsuei Ma Ma Foundation for Housing and Social Service, only 9 percent of property owners would rent their properties to senior citizens, and among them, only 1 percent would be willing to rent their properties to single senior citizens.

“This shows how difficult it is for elderly people to rent a house,” Lu said. “Most landlords said they would not be willing to rent properties to elderly people because they are worried that they may have some emergency, so the government could help by providing subsidies and routine visits by social workers to lessen the worries of landlords,” Lu said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), who accompanied the groups in the press conference, urged the government to address the housing needs of senior citizens, as Taiwan is an aging society.

She also called on the government to relax qualifications for social housing and build more senior citizens’ apartments.

A 78-year-old man surnamed Sun (孫) who appeared at the press conference said he lives in a basement in Taipei which is humid and without sunlight.

“The environment is bad for my health, and I’ve been trying to find another house. However, I’ve not had any luck in half a year,” Sun said. “Many landlords just turn me down upon hearing my voice.”

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