Older Australians being pushed to the brink of homelessness
1 July 2021 at 8:48 am
New data reveals the number of older Australians experiencing rent stress has increased by 11 per cent over the last year – prompting advocates to call for the government to increase CRA.
Data released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) stated that because Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) isn’t keeping up with the ever-increasing cost of rent, more Australians over the age of 75 are being pushed into rent stress.
The AIHW data showed that 487,884 households around the nation are experiencing some form of rental stress — defined as when someone is paying over 30 per cent of their income on rent — despite receiving CRA.
Older Australians are shown to be particularly vulnerable with the number of households experiencing rent stress increasing from 40,562 to 45,199 between 2019 and 2020 — an uptick of 11 per cent over the course of 12 months.
Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) acting CEO Kate Colvin said older Australians are vulnerable and being pushed to the brink of homelessness because the rising cost of rent consumes more and more of their income.
“Everyone needs a home, and CRA is intended to make private rentals affordable,” Colvin said.
“But the high cost of rent in capital cities, and skyrocketing rents across regional Australia, mean older Australians on low incomes are being left behind.”
She said vulnerable Australians are increasingly faced with the choice of paying their rent, buying food or paying their winter heating bill.
“No Australian should be forced to choose between food and rent,” Colvin said. “The federal government needs to increase CRA to give low-income renters more help to meet the high and growing cost of rents.”
With the proportion of social housing households falling from 4.6 per cent in 2014 to 4.2 per cent in 2020, Colvin said that the CHP will continue to call on the federal government to invest more into social housing.