Snapshot Reveals Severe Rental Stress
30 April 2014 at 3:05 pm
Australians on low incomes, and those on government payments and the minimum wage, can not afford to cover the costs of the current rental market, the latest Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot has revealed.
The nationwide snapshot, which is now in its fifth year, was undertaken on April 5 and surveyed more than 62,000 properties across the country.
Primary findings of the nationally aggregated data revealed that single people on government payments were severely disadvantaged in the housing market with less than 1 per cent of the listed 62,000 properties rated suitable for them.
It also revealed that 3.2 per cent of the properties were suitable for single people on minimum wage with two children, 4 per cent suitable for singles on minimum wage and 12.2 per cent were suitable for a couple with two children on minimum wage.
For age pensioner couples only 3.6 per cent of properties would have been suitable.
Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers has called for an increase in affordable housing and a dedicated Federal housing and homelessness minister.
“For people on the lowest incomes, those most vulnerable in the community, our Snapshot found that rental affordability is still virtually at zero,” Chambers said.
“That is particularly disturbing given the number of houses advertised for rent has increased since the last Snapshot in April last year. It looks like we are seeing a growing divide in housing options between those well-off and those who are not.”
In the greater Sydney area Anglicare researchers analysed 12,164 properties and of those properties advertised, only 33 were affordable and appropriate for households on income support payments without placing them into rental stress.
“In order to keep a roof over their head many people will go into severe rental stress spending more than 30 per cent of a very limited income on rent. This leaves very little for food and payment of utilities such as electricity,” Anglicare Sydney Director of Advocacy and Research Sue King said.
“Our research indicates that people will go without food in order to pay their rent and this is particularly problematic in households with children. We are very concerned with the onset of winter and what this may mean for people on the aged pension, disability support, and Newstart who are privately renting.”
The report found that couples receiving the Aged Pension had the greatest number of suitable properties available to them – 22 across Sydney. However single person households on the Aged Pension only had seven properties that were affordable.
“If the method of indexing the age pension is changed in the next budget, we are concerned more older people, who are just managing to maintain their homes at the moment, will be forced into rental stress or lose their homes altogether,” King said.
There were few suitable properties available for other household types, including:
- couples with children on Newstart (nine properties);
- single parents with two children on the Parenting Payment (four properties);
- single parents with one child on the Parenting Payment (one property).
No rental properties in Sydney were considered to be affordable and appropriate for single people on Newstart, Disability Support or Youth Allowance.
Eight per cent of Sydney rental properties were appropriate and affordable for households earning the minimum wage.
For families with both adults earning the minimum wage, there were 994 affordable and appropriate properties available. For single people on the minimum wage, there were only 56 properties across the city and for single parents on the minimum wage only 28 properties were both affordable and appropriate.
The Rental Affordability Snapshot (RAS) was originally developed by the Social Action Research Centre at Anglicare Tasmania to highlight the lived experience of looking for housing whilst on a low income.
ANGLICARE SYDNEY’S POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Raise the base level of Newstart by at least $50 per week;
- Increase the levels of Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA);
- Long-term commitment from State and Federal Government to increase the stock of social and affordable housing;
- Remove single parents from Newstart and restore the Single Parenting Payment until the youngest child turns 16 years of age;
- Consensus from governments at all levels on the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for at least five years, with five-year commitment to fund strategies (including numerical targets to increase affordable housing) and schemes under the agreements, including the fifth round of the National Rental Affordability Scheme.
To download the full report, including each state and territory’s snapshot, see below.