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3000 homes for elderly - 30 April 2006

ALMOST 3000 new homes will be built or bought for the elderly under a multi-million dollar State Government plan to address the state's ageing population reports Linda Silmalis in the Sunday Telegraph.

The properties would be purchased in Sydney and coastal areas in the next five years at a cost of $420 million.

Young families and older people will also be separated in new public housing developments to avoid incompatible lifestyle problems.

Elderly residents will also have access to funds to modify their own homes to avoid having to move as they age while a "granny watch" would be established to encourage residents to look out for each other. Safety inspections of homes would also be undertaken each year.

The changes are the first phase of the State Government's affordable housing policy.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said the plan was needed to address increasing demand for public housing among the State's increasingly ageing population.

"Over the next decade, the demand for social housing for older people will grow by around 36 per cent," he said.

"There has been a massive demographic shift in the demand for public housing.

"Our investment in public housing will ensure we have enough accommodation to meet growing demand from older people."

Eighty four-year-old Bexley North resident May Harris has lived in public housing for more than 60 years.

The Canterbury Hospital volunteer and mother of seven moved into a unit complex dedicated to older residents three years ago and plans never to move.

"I love it," she said. "It is very peaceful and the neighbours are very friendly."