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Rental affordability crisis worsens for low-income Aussies

1 September 2020 at 8:00 am
Luke Michael
Anglicare says with many renters out of work, the temporary JobSeeker boost is the only thing keeping a roof over people's head     

Luke Michael | 1 September 2020 at 8:00 am


Rental affordability crisis worsens for low-income Aussies
1 September 2020 at 8:00 am

Anglicare says with many renters out of work, the temporary JobSeeker boost is the only thing keeping a roof over people’s head     

New research shows that rental affordability for low-income Australians has further deteriorated since March, and charities warn that people will be pushed deeper into poverty if the planned cuts to the coronavirus supplement go ahead.    

Anglicare Australia has released a special mid-year update to its Rental Affordability Snapshot, surveying almost 77,000 rental listings across the nation in August. 

The previous snapshot – released in April – found that just 1.5 per cent of Australian rentals (1,040) were affordable for people on the JobSeeker Payment, even with the coronavirus supplement temporarily doubling its rate.

This latest snapshot sees this figure drop to 1 per cent (808 rentals). 

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said if the government maintains its plan to cut JobSeeker by $150 in September, only 168 rentals (0.2 per cent) would be affordable.

And if JobSeeker goes back to its old rate in December, this would drop even further to just 13 rentals across the entire country. 

Chambers said that many renters were now out of work, and the new rate of JobSeeker was the only thing keeping a roof over their head.

“For people on the lowest incomes, rentals are even less affordable than they were back in March,” Chambers said.

“Most of the price drops are at the higher end of the market. At the same time, more and more people are competing for cheap housing. That’s squeezing people out of the market.

“With 1.6 million people locked out of work, the new rate of JobSeeker is the only thing keeping them afloat.” 

Those on the Age Pension and Disability Support Pension – who missed out on the coronavirus supplement – are facing even greater difficulties affording rent.

In the previous snapshot, 1 per cent of rentals were affordable for aged pensioners, while 0.5 per cent of rentals (192) were affordable for a person on the DSP.

Anglicare’s latest data shows this affordability figure has dropped to 0.8 per cent for aged pensioners and 0.3 per cent for DSP recipients.   

Chambers said more must be done to help people on the lowest incomes.

She said 500,000 new social and affordable rentals were needed across Australia to address a national shortfall and boost the economy.

She added that welfare payments must be raised permanently.

“Rent deferrals and eviction moratoriums are ending soon, and some people are in arrears for thousands of dollars. Many are facing cuts to JobSeeker at the same time. This is a ticking time bomb,” she said.

“We must raise the rate of these payments for good. If the government goes ahead with planned cuts – and if age and disability pensioners are left out – renters will be pushed deeper into poverty and homelessness.”   

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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