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‘System is warped’: Brutal effects of soaring property market

Lucy Dean
·3-min read
An image of the nice terrace houses in Paddington Sydney
The reality of housing affordability in Australia has been laid bare. (Image: Getty).

Australia’s housing market has grown at its fastest pace in 32 years, and Australians on the JobSeeker and other welfare payments are being left behind.

An Aussie receiving the JobSeeker supplement would be able to afford three rental listings, including share houses, of the 74,000 surveyed in the latest Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot.

The Anglicare study also found that people on the minimum wage can afford 859 rental listings, while people on the Age Pension can afford 386. That’s 1.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

People on the Disability Support Pension can afford 236 rentals, or 0.3 per cent of the rental market.

And for those on Youth Allowance, there are no affordable properties. That’s essentially 0 per cent of the market for both groups.

'Never been less affordable'

Anglicare defined affordable housing as costing less than 30 per cent of a household budget for low income households.

It’s a rental market Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers has described as “never been less affordable”.

She said nearly 2 million unemployed or underemployed are now navigating a rental market that is not working for them.

“A stable home is essential to holding down a job, raising a family and looking after your health. But our housing system is warped. This basic plank of a civilised society is out of reach for many thousands of Australians,” spokesperson for the national campaign to end homelessness, Everybody’s Home, Kate Colvin said.

“High and rising rents are pushing thousands of Australians into homelessness, including young people who can’t live safely at home, women and children escaping family violence, and low income older people.

“We urgently need to build more social and affordable housing so that all Australians have the prospect of a healthy and stable life. It’s not much to ask.”

Rent assistance is needed

Everybody’s Home is calling for the Government to prioritise housing affordability in the coming budget by investing $7.7 billion into the construction of 30,000 over the next four years.

It’s also calling for a 50 per cent increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment.

That would mean the rent assistance for a single person without children would increase from $70 to $105 a week.

Anglicare’s Chambers also took aim at the current rate of JobSeeker, which fell from $715.70 per fortnight to $615.70 at the end of March.

"The 'new' rate of JobSeeker is so low that it hasn't made a dent in affordability," Chambers said.

"There are even fewer affordable rentals now than there were on the old rate of Newstart."

She said Australia needs to invest in 500,000 new social and affordable rentals, or risk more people falling into homelessness.

“Each year, we think the market couldn’t get any worse. And each year, we're shocked to see that it can. That’s why we need to lift JobSeeker and other payments above the poverty line. If we don’t, people out of work will be pushed deeper into housing stress and even homelessness.

Image: Yahoo Finance
Image: Yahoo Finance