Affordable Rentals for Minimum Income Australians Is ‘Lower Than Ever’: Report
“Resourcefulness and sacrifice is the only thing keeping a roof over the heads of many Australians.”
Australia’s rental market failures have been exposed this week, as statistics in the Rental Affordability Snapshot reveal the ability for low-income earners to secure affordable housing "is lower than ever.”
The report, by non-profit advocacy group Anglicare Australia, found that of more than 69,000 rental listings nationwide, just over 2% were affordable for those on a minimum wage. Likewise, 0.5% were available for the 750,000 disability support pension recipients and 0.8% for the 660,000 individuals receiving the aged pension.
"In the 10th year of doing the snapshot, affordability is lower than ever,” Executive Director of Anglicare Australia Kasy Chambers told SBS News. "The housing system is broken. It is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the country.”
The advocacy group uses the standard of 30% of a household budget to determine rent affordability. Spending over 30%, the organization claims, inflicts financial hardship and forces low-income tenants to forgo additional necessities, like food and heating.
.@anglicare_aust's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot revealed there are ZERO affordable rental homes for a young person on Youth Allowance in any capital city. All parties need to invest in affordable housing as part of their election campaign.https://t.co/affBlCiJv4pic.twitter.com/8nIscAMVNY— YMCA NSW (@ymcansw) April 29, 2019
Years of neglecting social housing by state and federal governments have been blamed for the crisis. The report also claims governments have failed to ensure rent and financial assistance is increased in real terms with the rising cost of living.
Newstart, the income support system for job-seeking Australians, has not had a real term increase in a quarter of a century.
"More than 142,500 Australians are on the waiting list for social housing, and half of those who were finally given a home in 2016-17 were already homeless,” Chambers stated. "We need to call on the government to commit to building social and community housing, and to work with states and territories to have a better balance in the rental agreements for tenants."
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The report shows 40% of all Australians worry they could become homeless if their circumstances change. According to the Council to the Homeless Persons (CHP), 116,427 Australians are homeless, up 13.5% in the past five years.
“It’s patently obvious that homelessness will continue to increase,” said Jenny Smith, the chief executive of CHP, in a media release. “Our services have an ever-increasing number of people coming to them for help. It’s not rocket science — we just need more housing that is affordable to people on the lowest incomes.”
Anglicare is using the report to push governments to build an additional 300,000 new social housing units and increase rent assistance by 40%. A government response can be expected following the federal election in late May.