Housing affordability crisis drives further inequality

AUSTRALIA'S housing affordability crisis creates a cycle of disadvantage where poor families are pushed into areas with fewer opportunities, research has revealed.

The housing affordability study by the universities of Melbourne, Adelaide and South Australia explored the social and economic implications for vulnerable people in our communities.

The lead author, Associate Professor Emma Baker from the University of Adelaide, said the findings published in Applied Geography highlighted the unequal nature of Australia's cities, and the processes that kept poor places poor.

"The more economically vulnerable people in our communities tend to make more frequent, multiple moves - and each time they're living in slightly worse accommodation in less advantaged areas," Prof Baker said.

"Essentially, the poor move to poor areas where they become even more disadvantaged."

Co-author Associate Professor Rebecca Bentley said the ongoing housing affordability crisis was forcing some families into areas with fewer opportunities and higher transport costs.

"In some cases, jobs can't be found, or are simply too far away to be practical," she said.

The University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health researcher said moving into areas with cheaper housing often involved a trade-off.

"They might choose to live in areas where the housing is cheaper, but they are trading off transport accessibility or being able to access employment hubs or good schools," she said.

"People are making choices around where they can afford to live, but they are losing out in other aspects."

Prof Bentley said addressing the issue went beyond increasing housing supply. Other aspects, such as better security of tenure for people renting, should be considered.

The authors said political discussion around "smart cities" needed to consider housing affordability solutions.

Topics:  housing inequality

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