“Of women who separate from their partner and lost the house, just one in three buy a home again within five years, and only 44 per cent again within 10 years.
“It means more than half of women who lose the house in a divorce, don’t buy a house within 10 years.
“That is a driver of why older woman that have been separated are more than three times as likely to rent at age 65 than married woman.”
One of the founding members of the National Foundation for Australian Women, Marie Coleman AO, said the scheme’s expansion was a sensible change.
“There are so many older women who would probably value the opportunity,” Ms Coleman said, adding that they could set up joint arrangements with a friend.
“There certainly is a need for it. The other side is, what kind of housing is available and at what prices for people to buy into?”
According to Mission Australia, older women are the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness.
Department of Social Services figures show women over 50 who receive the JobSeeker payment are on the unemployment scheme for an average of 242 weeks, compared with 198 weeks five years ago.
The same cohort receiving rent assistance jumped by 50,000 in the past four years to more than 400,000.
The schemes allow potential home buyers who earn less than $125,000 (or under $200,000 for couples) to purchase a home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent without paying lenders’ mortgage insurance.
Under the scheme the government will guarantee the cost of up to 15 per cent of the value of eligible properties.
Push up prices
Mr Coates said the policy may help some people buy a home earlier, by getting over the deposit hurdle, but would have very modest upward pressure on prices as it would add to demand.
“What we hope to see in the budget is a serious plan to unlock housing supply to make housing cheaper in the long run to rent or buy,” he said.
“The number one thing we hope for … is the government showing it’s going to use the Housing Accord to push the state and local councils to reform housing rules.
“Because it’s the states and local councils that control the rules that restrict how much housing we build. Those restrictions exist because they reflect the interests of people who live there already who would prefer more housing is built elsewhere rather in their own suburb.”
SQM Research managing director Louis Christopher said he expected the scheme to be priced into the housing market within months.
“[While] we might see some renters turn themselves into first home buyers, it’s probably not going to significantly help the current rental crisis at this time,” he said.
Mr Christopher said Australia was not building enough housing to meet demand, particularly with increased migration.