On February 3rd, GroenPlus met with 50 seniors in the Flemish Parliament for a Colloquium on new and diverse forms of housing for the elderly. As a member of ENGS (European Network of Green Seniors), GroenPlus wants to share this with all green seniors in Europe:
In Flanders (Belgium) adapted living is a hot item for people over 67 years. In 25 years, one in four inhabitants will belong to this category. Currently, Belgium has about one person over 67 for 3.8 people between the ages of 18 and 66. From 2030 on, the number of pensioners will be higher than that of minors. At the same time, the number of single-person households will continue to increase. This is evident from the Population Forecast of the Belgian statistical office Statbel.
It would seem that for traditional residential care centres this means big business. However, that is not the case. The occupancy rate fell from 96 to 94 per cent and today about 4,600 of the 82,000 rooms are empty. Residential care centres are forced to give discounts. It shows that the housing issue is more complex and that the classic forms of housing needs to be overhauled. Corona has accelerated this trend.
The analysis is clear: the government’s housing policy is not adapted to the needs of the elderly. Residential care centres are too big and they are not adapted to the growing diversity of the elderly. On the other hand, houses are not adapted for elderly who want to continue living in their own home, often they are too far away from the village or town centre, and there is a lack of guidance and support for informal social carers. Poor elderly suffer from insufficient financial reserves whereas private companies apply large profit margins. In general there is too little attention for the advancing diversity of the older generations. These many aspects are not being taken into account sufficiently by current housing policies and the existing infrastructure. The boomers are coming. They want to have their say in the solutions.
It is high time to map out a new housing policy for and especially with the elderly. Comprehensive and affordable government-subsidised and controlled neighbourhood-oriented residential care is the ultimate goal. It is in this direction that we must look for solutions for the future. GroenPlus wants to dedicate a Congress to it in the autumn of 2023 (October), with proposals to our green Members of Parliament.
Kris Fierens, Chair ENGS