The electorates with the highest rental stress are probably not where you think they are
1 May 2019 at 5:11 pm
Traditionally affordable areas like western Sydney, and regional parts of NSW and southeastern Queensland dominate the 20 electorates with the highest rates of rental stress in Australia, new research shows.
Seat by seat analysis, by researchers from the University of NSW for the Everybody’s Home Campaign, has revealed rental stress is being concentrated in outer suburban and regional seats.
The Labor-held seat of Fowler, which includes the western Sydney suburbs of Cabramatta, Wakeley and Canley Heights, topped the list with 44 per cent of renters living in rental stress, or a total of 8,117 households.
It was followed by McMahon in outer-western Sydney (43 per cent), Richmond, which covers the Queensland and NSW border (43 per cent), Blaxland, also in outer-western Sydney (42 per cent), and Watson in Southern Sydney (42 per cent).
Rental stress refers to households with an income in the lowest two income quintiles (the bottom 40 per cent) of Australia’s income distribution who are paying more than 30 per cent of their income in housing costs.
Kate Colvin, the national spokesperson for the Everybody’s Home Campaign, told Pro Bono News the analysis busted the myth that housing affordability was an issue only faced by inner-city renters.
“Traditionally affordable areas of western Sydney, regional NSW, and southeast Queensland actually have more renters doing it tough than areas we often think about as high rent like Melbourne and Sydney,” Colvin said.
“It’s because they are locations that both have increasing rents, but also lots of low-income households.”
Comparatively, inner-city electorates in Sydney ranked 137, Melbourne, 117 and Brisbane, 115, which Colvin said was because the higher incomes of inner-city renters allowed them to better absorb housing costs.
Colvin said that marginal regional seats such as Richmond have the highest rates of low-income earners struggling in the private rental market, which should be a wake-up call to all parties.
“They can’t afford to ignore housing as an issue,” she said. Out of the top 20 electorates, just one was outside of QLD and NSW – Kingston in South Australia which ranked 20th and had 38 per cent rental stress.
Colvin said while NSW and QLD had a high number of people living in poverty, areas like Byron Bay and beachside areas of southeast QLD were becoming increasingly popular for wealthier people.
“It’s a bit of a picture of gentrification,” she said.
She said this could also mean more people falling into homelessness.
“If people are paying so much of their income in rent that they can’t afford other costs, then an emergency like medical bills or food on the table can push people into homelessness,” she said.
Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot also revealed on Monday that less than 0.5 per cent of properties were affordable for singles on the Disability Support Pension (DSP), while virtually no properties were affordable for a single person on Newstart.
The Everybody’s Home Campaign has been calling on the government to develop a national strategy to provide 500,000 social and affordable rental homes by 2030 since launching in March 2018.
Colvin said Everybody’s Home was about to release a “candidate action” form to make it easier for the public to have a conversation with their local candidates about the issue of housing and rental affordability.
“This analysis is showing that rental affordability is not really a top priority issue, and so we want those candidates to be making sure that their party has a solid platform that commits to social housing investment,” she said.