What this means

For years, our Snapshot has shown that the rental market fails people on government incomes. This is going to become a bigger and bigger problem as more people come to depend on payments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The most recent government data show that 1.6 million people are locked out of work, making the JobSeeker payment critical. More than 81,000 people are on Youth Allowance, and close to 750,000 people get the Disability Support Pension. We also know that 660,000 people on the Aged Pension don’t own their own home. Many people on government incomes are renting and living in severe housing stress.

In the face of this downturn, Australia’s unemployment figures are skyrocketing. Experts are predicting that the number of people on the Jobseeker Payment is due to at least to 1.4 million. Some are saying that as many as one in four Australians will be out of work.

Australia also has hundreds of thousands of migrant workers. These workers, along with asylum seekers, international students and other temporary migrants do not have any access to income support – including Jobseeker, Jobkeeper, or Medicare. Many people will be turning to Anglicare Australia members or other services to make the rent. Some might be pushed into homelessness.

Even before the pandemic, we were seeing rising rates of couch-surfing, rough-sleeping, over-crowding, and other kinds of homelessness. These increases were captured in the last Census.

People will be recovering from this downturn for years. If rates are halved in December – and if those who are most vulnerable are left out – people will be pushed even deeper into poverty and homelessness.