Our Rental Affordability Snapshot shows that renting in the private market is just not affordable for people on government income support. To have a roof over their head, people on very low incomes are having to sacrifice other essentials. Sadly, this is no surprise to us. In the nine years that Anglicare Australia has been completing the Rental Affordability Snapshot, the results have not meaningfully changed.
» A crisis for the poorest in our community
There are approximately 760,000 people on Newstart in Australia, more than 95,000 receiving Youth Allowance, and approximately 760,000 people receiving the Disability Support Pension. Many of them are likely to be renting. We also know that approximately 250,000 people receiving the Aged Pension rent their homes. With just 6% of rental properties on the private market affordable and suitable for people on the lowest incomes, the size of the crisis is clear.
94% of rentals are not affordable for people who receive income support
We know that many people on low incomes are avoiding becoming homeless by sacrificing other basic living needs to pay the rent – things like eating enough, using public transport, heating or cooling their home, or seeing a doctor when they need to. Many approach Anglicare agencies for help with emergency food relief, financial counselling and emergency assistance to pay essential bills such as electricity. However, for the poorest in our communities, there is a limit to the number of ways they can try and afford rent when their income is so little.
This is why the number of people who are homeless in Australia keeps going up. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, using Census figures, from 2011 to 2016, the number of homeless people in Australia rose from over 102,000 to over 116,000.
» People on the minimum wage also struggle
In this year’s Snapshot we found that 1,952 properties were affordable and suitable for single people on the minimum wage, and 17,274 for a couple on the same. This sounds like a lot, compared to the tiny handful available for people on government income, but it doesn’t tell the full story. Single people on the minimum wage with children for example, are as badly off as those on government income support, with less than 6% of properties affordable and suitable for them on the Snapshot weekend.
94% of rentals are not affordable for single parents earning minimum wage
While the situation for a couple on minimum wage has eased significantly in places like Perth, it must be remembered this also signals some economic decline and quite possibly a decline in suitable employment. Meanwhile in Sydney the situation is now so extreme, that a couple on the minimum wage on the Snapshot weekend would have found just 4% of properties affordable and suitable.
It’s also important to remember that people on low income are not just competing with each other for scarce accommodation. With one in three Australians renting, and with rents (and housing prices) soaring, many are feeling the pressure of the cost of finding a home. Therefore people on low income are also competing with people on significantly higher incomes who are also understandably trying to minimise their rent costs, for the same small number of affordable properties.