Rental properties out of reach of disadvantaged Australians: report

Posted on 24 Apr 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Housing affordability crisis

A survey of more than 45,000 rental listings has revealed not a single dwelling would be affordable for a young person scraping by on the $639 fortnightly Youth Allowance.

The Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot also showed that only three rentals – all of which were share houses – were deemed to be affordable for a person struggling to survive on the $762 fortnightly Jobseeker payment.

The report’s findings have prompted a call by Anglicare for the federal government to return to directly building and providing housing.

Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers said the housing crisis in Australia was the worst it had ever been.

“This is not hyperbole. It is Australia’s new normal.”

The national report, now in its 15th year, also revealed:

  • just 289 rentals (0.6%) out of the more than 45,000 assessed were judged to be affordable for a person earning a full-time minimum wage
  • 89 rentals (0.2%) were affordable for a person on the Age Pension
  • a mere 31 rental properties (0.1%) were affordable for a person on the Disability Support Pension.

Ms Chambers said Anglicare had never seen such bad results for people on the minimum wage, with affordability halving for a single person in the past two years.

She said even couples with both partners working full-time are locked out of 90% of rentals.

“People on Centrelink payments are being pushed out of housing altogether,” said Ms Chambers.

“A person on the age or disability support pensions can afford less than 1% of rentals. For a person out of work, it’s 0% – and that includes the highest rate of rent assistance.”

Ms Chambers said the government must step up instead of leaving housing to the private sector.

Anglicare executive director Kasy Chambers.

“We found that the government spends eight times as much propping up private investors as it does on building housing itself.

“This approach is wrong, and it’s supercharging rents and house prices.”

Ms Chambers said housing cannot be left to hobby landlords and private developers.

“Only our government can ensure that rentals are affordable by building homes itself, and by fixing Australia’s unfair tax system.

“Instead of spending billions on tax breaks for investors, the Government should be building the housing we need.

“If the government doesn’t take action in the next Budget, this crisis will only get worse,” Ms Chambers said.

“Not even a job is enough to guarantee a roof over people’s heads.”
Council to Homeless Persons CEO Deborah Di Natale.

Ms Chambers' concerns reflect similar calls for action from sector organisations such as Mission Australia.

A report released this week by the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) titled Employed and at Risk: The New Face of Homelessness in Victoria revealed a 14% increase in the number of employed people seeking help from homelessness services in the Garden State.

Women accounted for more than 70% of working people seeking assistance, according to the report, which analysed new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.

CHP CEO Deborah Di Natale said the alarming rise in the number of working Victorians seeking homelessness support was a frightening new front in the state’s crippling housing crisis.

“Melbourne’s outer suburbs and the state’s regional centres are at the eye of this savage cost-of-living storm.

“Not even a job is enough to guarantee a roof over people’s heads.”

In a recent interview with the Not-for-profit Agenda news webcast, Mission Australia's executive of practice, evidence and impact, Marion Bennett, said it was vital the Albanese government move to address the housing crisis in the upcoming federal Budget.

“The [housing] situation is the direst we have ever seen it,” said Ms Bennett.

“More than 94% of people in the private rental market who have low incomes are in housing stress and that puts them at extreme risk of homelessness.”

Ms Bennett said it was vital for the federal government to get in early and work with organisations such as Mission Australia that are seeing the housing crisis up close, to prevent people who are at risk of homelessness from falling off the housing affordability cliff.

“If on federal Budget night we don’t see further investment in social housing and in homelessness services, then unfortunately the situation is going to continue to get worse.”

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