Aspect April 2017: Rental Affordability Snapshot Edition

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

No place like home: Rental affordability in crisis

Kasy ED 4_prefThis year marked the release of Anglicare Australia’s eight annual Rental Affordability Snapshot. This year, we analysed over 67,700 private rentals assessed them for affordability for 14 different household types, ranging from a single person on Youth Allowance to a couple both on the minimum wage with two children. We factored in all government benefits and tax concessions the household would be due to receive, such as Commonwealth Rental Assistance and Family Tax Benefits.

The purpose of the Rental Affordability Snapshot has always been to highlight the lived experience of people and families on low incomes trying to find a home in the private rental market. As this Snapshot shows, the number of dwellings affordable for people on low incomes is so low that rental stress is unavoidable for most. In highlighting this lived experience it is important to emphasise that the biggest impact of the housing affordability crisis is in compromising people’s right to a home. 

As we all know, there is more to having a home than simply having a roof over your head. Our home is the foundation of our wellbeing and health. A home is defined as much through the people we share it with, its objects, sounds, smells, tastes, textures and memories, as it is by its architecture or location. A home supports and reflects our cultural connections and identities; it is a place that takes shape through our habits, interests and visions. We know our home and our home knows us. 

But our findings made for sobering reading. Of all the properties we analysed, just eight were affordable for a single person living on Youth Allowance. The numbers were similarly bleak for a single person on Newstart – 21 places across the whole country were affordable. There is a dire shortage of affordable rental houses for people on low income, particularly the 10% of Australians reliant on government payments. In addition, this experience of rental stress is for many coupled with a lack of rights to make the place they are renting their own.

This is our eighth year of the national Snapshot, and successive reports have shown that if you are on government benefits, if you are on the minimum wage, if you are single, the private rental market continues to be a very difficult place for you to live. And if you do find shelter or accommodation, there is almost nothing available on the market that could become a place to call home.

It has been interesting to observe the changes in the national conversation since we began producing the report. This year’s snapshot came at a time where there seems to be, finally, a universal agreement that there is a housing affordability crisis. As is shown by the consistency of our findings over the last eight years, this discussion is only just catching up to what many Australians have experienced for a much longer time.

Surely, now with such strong recognition of the level of crisis, we can look forward to a different and better story to tell for low income Australians when we complete the ninth Snapshot next year. The evidence of the need to act, who needs to be helped most urgently to have a home, and the solutions that will work, have never been more clear.

Kasy Chambers

National Office News

Rental Affordability Snapshot: Resources

Anglicare Australia has produced infographics to highlight some of the key findings of this year’s Rental Affordability Snapshot. These graphics are available to download and re-post, or to share from Anglicare Australia social media accounts.

Anyone hoping to understand what the Snapshot means for their local area should also read Greg Jericho’s piece in The Guardian, which uses graphs and interactive local data.

Rental Affordability Snapshot: Media wrap-up

RAS ReportAs Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said in her editorial, the findings in this year’s Rental Affordability Snapshot were stark - and there was a strong interest in our findings all over Australia.

Kasy was interviewed on ABC News Breakfast on the morning of the Snapshot release, and continued to be featured throughout the day by ABC News, SBS News, Ten News, and Sky News. The Snapshot was also the subject of discussion on The Drum.

The report was written up by national news outlets including ABC Online, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Canberra Times, and the Huffington Post, who also featured an opinion piece from Kasy Chambers. The Snapshot was also covered by youth outlets such as The Wire, Triple J’s Hack, and Buzzfeed News.

Media coverage across Australia was strong, particularly in regional and rural areas where Anglicare member CEOs were kept busy with media interviews on the day and those following. The report was welcomed by Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Doug Cameron, as well as Greens Housing spokesperson Lee Rhiannon.

Opinion piece: Having to choose between rent and food is a choice no family should make

RASIn an Opinion Piece published on the Huffington Post, Executive Director of Anglicare Australia Kasy Chambers argues that if the past eight years of the Rental Affordability Snapshot have shown us anything, it's that housing affordability is not a problem that can simply be left to the market. It's time for the government to reclaim its responsibility to provide a home for its citizens - and the next Federal Budget is their chance to do it.

To read the full opinion piece, click here.

Housing to be an important feature of federal budget

Anglicare Australia released the following Media Release on 10 April: 

Executive Director of Anglicare Australia Kasy Chambers said that a stable home is the foundation for health, participation, work, security and belonging.

Ms Chambers said that Anglicare Australia would like to see the Federal Budget include a non-partisan and national approach involving all levels of governments, industry and community to the housing crisis.

To read the media release, click here.

Anglicare Australia makes submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into NDIS costs

Anglicare Australia has made a Submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) costs.

To read the submission, click here.

Registrations open: Anglicare Australia 2017 Conference

Registrations are now open for the Anglicare Australia National Conference, to be held at the Crowne Plaza, Coogee Beach.

With a focus on the theme: Stronger Together: Our Mission in the Marketplace we welcome workshops and presentations in all service types from member organisations in areas such as:
- Cutting edge service design
- Client experience and co-production
- Communications strategies for advocacy and for service delivery
- Faith-based engagement
- Leadership, management and staff development
- Marketing / fundraising
- Organisational development
- Research, evaluation and outcomes measurement

Papers should be submitted by no later than Friday 16 June 2017.

To register or submit a paper, click here.

From Principles to Practice: Delivering Wellness and Reablement Service Models

An Anglicare Australia Aged and Community Care Network forum at Anglicare Castle Hill, Sydney. Wednesday 31 May and Thursday 1 June, 2017.

A From Principles to Practice forum will be held at the Anglicare Castle Hill aged care site, 284 Castle Hill Road, Castle Hill. The Forum will kick off at 4:00 pm in the Menzies Room at the Fillingham Centre with a session on the new Home Care system.

We will discuss how it’s working for people, for our services and our staff. Anglicare Sydney is then offering cocktails before dinner. 

People wishing to reserve a place should email their name and contact details (and dietary preferences) to [email protected] with "REGISTRATION: From Principles to Practice" in the subject line as soon as possible, no later than COB Thurs 11 May, 2017.

Job Vacancy: National Media and Communications Manager

Anglicare Australia is seeking a National Media and Communications Manager. The role will position and amplify the work of Anglicare Australia and its network members in the wider community, and build on their capacity to work together.

To find out more, click here.

Anglicare Network News

Rental affordability in crisis across Australia

To coincide with the 2017 Rental Affordability Snapshot, we’re highlighting rental affordability across the Anglicare network.


Rental affordability in Darwin and the Northern Territory
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare NT

The Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot process has reinforced the importance of government policy interventions and the need for appropriate resources to address the housing affordability crisis in Northern Territory. Too many people within the Northern Territory who are reliant on some form of welfare payment are paying too large a percentage of their limited resources towards housing which often isn’t particularly appropriate for their needs and places extra stress on the household to maintain essential services such as electricity, water and purchasing fresh and healthy food.

Despite programs like the ‘head-leasing initiative’ funded by the Territory Government, there has not been significant progress to address the crisis of housing affordability in the Northern Territory. Policy interventions to counter the risks associated with housing stress could include further increasing the supply of affordable and appropriate housing across the Northern Territory as well as extending the National Rental Affordability Scheme with a focus on young people.

Failure to attract either government or private investment in affordable housing options in the Northern Territory will continue to place cost of living pressure on those who can least afford it and those who have the least housing options available to them.

Rental affordability in the Brisbane Metropolitan Area
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare Southern Queensland

The Queensland Government has recently completed state-wide consultations to inform a 10-year Housing Strategy. It is clear from the responses that there are barriers at every phase of the journey for those on low incomes. Queenslanders overwhelmingly identified the state’s stock of social housing as too low.

Anglicare SQ’s own findings through the Rental Affordability Snapshot demonstrate that almost all low income households need to spend far in excess of 30% of their weekly household income to rent from the Brisbane private rental market. The bridge into home ownership is clearly also a shaky one, with low income renters having limited capacity to save for a home deposit. People are locked out of the choice of home ownership and potentially into a long term rental poverty trap.

With projections for the Brisbane local government area to reach nearly 1.5 million people over the next 20 years, from a current population of 1.2 million, the issue of affordability will become ever more pressing. It requires urgent action at both state and federal level to ensure a real pathway to safe, secure and affordable housing.

Rental affordability in greater Sydney and the Illawarra
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare Sydney

The issue of rental affordability facing thousands of Greater Sydney and Illawarra residents requires an urgent and long-term commitment to improve affordability from all levels of government, community and business sectors.

All levels of government need to commit to long-term agreements such as the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, with strategies and funding commitment for at least five years. The Federal Government needs to work with all levels of government to commit to a formal five-year plan with numerical targets to increase the supply of social and affordable housing. Recipients of Newstart and Commonwealth Rent Assistance desperately need increased income support to help prevent them entering rental stress in the Greater Sydney and Illawarra area.

On a state level, attention must be directed to the social housing crisis. With over 60,000 approved applicants for social housing waiting on the NSW Housing Register and many low income households in extreme rental stress in the private rental market, immediate action must be taken to increase the supply and availability of social housing.

Rental affordability in Canberra and Queanbeyan
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare NSW South, West and ACT

At the Territory level, the ACT needs a whole of government commitment to address homelessness. Every government portfolio needs to recognise the effects of unaffordable housing, from financial stress and exclusion to crisis and homelessness, on every aspect of life for many Canberra families. 

Housing supply continues to lag behind community demand, with the exception of some types of housing which do not closely match the needs of the community. Land release in greenfields developments must be accompanied by strong public transport links and infrastructure, and must include options for a range of household incomes. Creative reuse of existing built spaces is another option, provided it is appropriate.

Government investment in social housing and affordable housing options, as well as providing incentives for non-government investors to increase the supply of affordable housing, will be required to address the disparity between subsidised accommodation and the unaffordable private market. Bridging this gap will also enable a smoother transition for social housing tenants into the private market when appropriate, and provide options other than government housing for those in housing crisis.

Rental affordability in Victoria
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare Victoria

The Rental Affordability Snapshot continues to highlight that low income earners, particular those who rely on income support, are systematically excluded from the private rental market. The areas where rental properties are available and affordable within Metropolitan Melbourne are typically characterised by very high levels of social and economic disadvantage.

There continues to be regional versus urban divide, whereby low income earners have much greater access to appropriate and affordable housing in regional, rural and coastal areas of Victoria. Even so, the overall rental stock in these areas can be quite low resulting in potentially high competition for a scarce resource. As a result, low income earners in Victoria continue to be faced with a range of unacceptable choices, including paying more than they can afford and/or living in demonstrably inappropriate housing for their needs.

For the eight year in a row, this data points to the lack of action by successive state and federal governments to improve the housing outcomes of people on low incomes, and to the on-going need to invest in creative social and public housing solutions for those who need it most.

Rental affordability in Tasmania
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare Tasmania

With decreasing rental stock, increasing demand for that stock from a range of tenants and burgeoning tourist and investment economies potentially putting future demands on Tasmanian property, how do we ensure that the needs of low income households for affordable and stable accommodation does not get lost in the shifting dynamics of our three housing sectors – social and private rental and house purchasing?

Purposefully addressing housing affordability in Tasmania requires a refocus of federal and state housing policy goals towards creating homes for more households, as well as encouraging investments for wealth creation. We support the development of federal and state government policies that will deliver the policy goals of increasing the supply of appropriate housing and reducing competition within the private rental sector. Anglicare Tasmania recognises that to achieve these goals requires adjustments across three housing sectors – social housing, private sector rentals and house purchasing.

Anglicare Tasmania plans to further develop a range of state-based priorities for change in liaison with those who rent, those who support low income households to find homes, and those who provide private rental properties.

Rental affordability in Adelaide
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare SA

Over the eight years of the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot, AnglicareSA has shown repeatedly that housing unaffordability is at crisis levels for people living on low incomes across the Adelaide area. Action must be taken with a coordinated, systemic and broad approach to addressing housing affordability.

The Commonwealth Government has acknowledged that reform is required in Australia’s housing market to increase social and affordable housing options, and it has proposed an aggregated bond model. We support this proposal as one component of a broader and more complex solution.

We call for a national plan for social and affordable housing, which prioritises growing the supply of social housing, reforming the tax system, and supplying a mix of housing that meets the different needs of people.

Rental affordability in Perth
This snapshot was provided by Anglicare WA

Consistent with previous years, this year’s Snapshot found a severe lack of housing options in WA for people on income support payments. With over 18,500 households on the waitlist for social housing with an average wait time of three years, most low income households must find somewhere to live in the private rental market.

Households with two parents working full-time fared better in this year’s Snapshot than in previous years. Falling rents, following the highs during the mining boom, have brought some relief to working families struggling to keep up with bills, although many working families continue to struggle to cover the cost of childcare to enable full time employment. But the slowing of the WA economy has also brought economic uncertainty to many working families. With growing rates of unemployment, under-employment and increased casualisation of the workforce, many WA households are in precarious financial circumstances.

Following years of inflated rents during the mining boom, Western Australia is seeing some marked improvements in rental affordability. Nevertheless, the situation remains dire for households on fixed incomes including pensioners, people with disability, job seekers and single parents. These households will continue to struggle unless rental accommodation becomes more affordable.

National Awards Profile

HIGHLY COMMENDED | Street Connect, Anglicare WA

Welcome to the next in our series of profiles on the winners and highly commended of the Anglicare Australia 2016 National Awards for Innovation and Excellence. These profiles are featured in the 2017 Anglicare Australia Review.

Street Connect, a program of Anglicare WA, provides outreach and support to “at-risk” young people aged 15-25 years within the Perth inner city area.

Using a Toyota Coaster as a Mobile Youth Resource Centre, Anglicare WA youth workers park within the Perth Central Business District where disconnected and marginalised young people gather. The bus provides a youth-friendly space with wireless internet, tablets and laptops, and a diverse range of resources for young people.

Skilled and qualified youth workers work in pairs to meet and form positive relationships with young people present on the street. As relationships grow, opportunities present to support the young people through informal counselling, advocacy, crisis intervention, intensive case management support and critical connection to services.

The award judges said that the Street Connect van was a brilliant initiative which takes outreach to a whole new level. They enjoyed reading the court’s validation of the program and noted the good evidence gathered of the impact it has. They also said that the program demonstrated a commitment to excellence and a willingness to go a little deeper and explore what actually does work.

 

Research and Resources

AHURI report recommends major housing policy overhaul

AHURI ReportThe Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s new report, Developing the scale and capacity of Australia's affordable housing industry, finds that the key to the affordable housing industry’s future is that governments, in consultation with affordable housing providers, establish a clear industry vision with defined policy objectives, and specify medium-term growth strategies and targets to realise that vision.

The report finds that governments need to embrace responsibility for leadership on affordable housing, and restore their policy-making capacity. Designating a dedicated minster and agency for this purpose is recommended. The ‘affordable housing policy’ remit needs to extend beyond the human services realm.

Mission Australia releases youth mental health report

MI ReportMission Australia has collaborated with the Black Dog Institute on this year’s Youth Mental Health Report – Five Year Mental Health Youth Report.

The report presents five years of mental health data collected from young people across Australia with important insights into their levels of psychological distress, their concerns and the people and places they go to for help.

Landmark report on aged care funding released

The Australian Health Services Research Institute has released a final report on future funding models to be adopted for the residential aged care in Australia. This review of the current system and consideration of options for the future has addressed five key issues: classification and assessment tools, pricing, funding models (including analysis of the resource and infrastructure implications), implementation considerations and audit mechanisms. 

The report calls for sustainability and certainty, equity in funding between different types of providers (particularly in the recognition of fixed and variable costs), alignment with cost drivers, incentive systems, approaches to the assessment of resident care needs, operational efficiency and implementation considerations.

Government Policy and Information

Inquiry into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Community Development Program

The Finance and Public Administration References Committee will undertake an inquiry into the Community Development Program, after new research raised concerns that the program is creating significant hardship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Inquiry will review the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of the CDP.

Submissions close Friday June 9, 2017.

Consultation on reviews of aged care strategies for people from diverse backgrounds

The Federal Government is reviewing the national strategies that support the aged care needs of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) communities and people across both sectors are being encouraged to put their views. Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, has invited submissions from aged care consumers and carers, from CALD and LGBTI backgrounds, aged care providers and peak bodies.

The submission forms will be open until 5pm, 12 May 2017.

Decision-making controls for sustainability: National Disability Insurance Scheme access

The Australian National Audit Office is assessing the effectiveness of controls being implemented and/or developed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to ensure National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) access decisions are consistent with legislative and other requirements. 

Submissions close Friday May 5, 2017.

Parliamentary inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence

The Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs is holding an inquiry into how Australia’s federal family law system can better support and protect people affected by family violence. The Committee aims to make recommendations that will improve the system for all participants. Given the sensitive nature of the inquiry, participants are asked to ensure that the names and identifying details of parties involved in family law matters, particularly children, are not disclosed when providing input to the inquiry.

Submissions close Wednesday May 3, 2017.

Sector Events

Sector Events, April-May, 2017

7th International Carers Conference
Dates: 4-6 October at the Adelaide Convention Centre

FCA Conference (Financial Counsellors Australia)
Dates: 14-17 May, 2017

HESTA awards
Nominations for the 2017 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards are now open. The annual Awards recognise graduates, individuals and teams for their professionalism, innovation and care, across a range of health settings. 

GARMA festival
Registrations have opened for the Garma festival. Run by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, the Garma festival will take place from the 4th to the 7th of August. Anglicare representatives will be at the festival – for more information, email [email protected].

18th International Mental Health Conference
Abstract submissions are now being accepted for the 18th International Mental Health Conference, which will be held on the Gold Coast on 21-23 August 2017. Visit the website to submit your abstracts orregister.

 

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