Affordable housing advocates are calling for a shake-up of Australia’s housing market after the latest Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot showed only three per cent of properties were affordable to those on government support payments. Photo: Lee Constable
Affordable housing advocates are calling for a shake-up of Australia’s housing market after the latest Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot showed only three per cent of properties were affordable to those on government support payments. Photo: Lee Constable

Renters on income support are in dire straits

JUST three per cent of rental properties are affordable for Australians on income support payments.

That's what is shown in the latest Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot.

Affordable housing advocates, the Everybody's Home campaign, are calling for a shake-up of Australia's housing market and calling for more affordable housing.

The snapshot from Anglicare looked at 70,000 rental listings and found an overwhelming majority were unaffordable despite COVID-19 income support increases.

The figures come as the Grattan Institure predicted between 14 and 26 per cent of Australian workers could be out of work as a direct result of the coronavirus shutdown.

"COVID-19 has exposed how badly broken our housing system is," Everybody's Home spokeswoman Kate Colvin said.

"In the last few months we've seen rough sleepers with nowhere to shelter from the virus, renters facing eviction overnight, and Australians paying so much in rent they can't afford to stay afloat when they lose their job.

"As the economy recovers, we will also see more people experiencing homelessness than ever before."

The Anglicare Snapshot sets the an internationally recognised benchmark for affordable rent to be no more than 30 per cent of a household budget.

This year, the snapshot was taken on March 21 and compared the nearly 70,000 rental property listings on realestate.com.au.

Each property was then assessed and compared against 14 different types of household incomes to determine whether the property was affordable or suitable.

The findings showed that on March 21, just three per cent of rental properties were affordable and appropriate for households relying on government income support.

For those on the minimum wage, that number jumped to 22 per cent.

Just days after the snapshot was taken, the Coronavirus Supplement was rolled out, which gave Anglicare the opportunity to evaluate rental affordability if such a payment increase was made permanent.

"Our Snapshot shows again that the private rental market is failing to provide affordable housing for people on low incomes," the Anglicare snapshot reads.

"With hundreds of thousands more Australians now reliant on government incomes or the minimum wage, it will take a total collapse in rental prices for that to change.

"More affordable rentals may become available, but this will be countered by large drops in income. This means that many more people may need access to affordable housing."

Everybody's Home called for support on a list of five recommendations:

• Investment in 500,000 social and affordable homes to create a safety net for Australian renters - and the construction jobs and apprenticeships Australia needs to rebuild.

• Fairer rental laws to protect renters from unfair evictions.

• Permanent increases to government income support.

• A national plan to end homelessness within 10 years; and

• Changes to tax laws so that home and shelter are always more important than quick investment windfalls.

"The rental snapshot confirms what we already knew - Australia needs more affordable housing," Ms Colvin said.

"Australia can't afford to go back to the way our housing system was. We need to make sure that everybody in Australia will always have a home."


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