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Chronic housing stress: out of control

Apr 30, 2015, 09:00 AM by Anglicare Australia

“The proof is in the pudding, and our Rental Affordability Snapshot figures this year show there is a severe housing crisis for people on low incomes. As a matter of urgency, governments must put a national plan in place to resolve it,” Anglicare Australia Executive Director, Kasy Chambers said today.

Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot will be launched at Parliament House at 10.30 this morning, supported by key peak bodies representing the aged, young people, people with mental health issues, women escaping domestic violence and people with disability.

“The terrible shortage of affordable housing affects everyone trying to make do on a low income, whatever their circumstance,” Ms Chambers said.

“The numbers speak for themselves. Over the weekend of 11 April, we surveyed more than 65,600 properties and found just 618 properties across the country were suitable for a couple on Newstart with two children. A single person on Parenting Payment with two children had just 165 options.

“Less than 2% of the properties were affordable for people with disability. There were only 8 rooms or dwellings that a young person on Youth Allowance could afford, and we found only 10 properties suitable for someone living alone and looking for work.

“Although people on Age Pension fared slightly better than other household types, many older private renters are at risk of homelessness for the first time in their life. Social housing is especially important for older people as the long term tenure, as well as low rent, allows them to maintain independence and connection, but it is in short supply.

“And when we looked across 10 different government payment types, only 5% of the dwellings surveyed were suitable for any of them – that is a huge number of people after very few properties.

“People from all walks of life are suffering chronic housing stress in Australia; forgoing daily necessities in order to pay the rent. They are living in overcrowded houses, couch-surfing, living in cars, park, shelters or doorways.

“Every day the news has stories about women trying to escape domestic violence, isolated people living with mental illness, young people transitioning from out-of-home care, older people unable to get back into work. We might feel for them when we hear their stories, but what they need from us is somewhere safe and secure to live.

“With the removal of key national sources of independent housing/homelessness expertise and advice last year, and the proposed loss of funding to housing peaks, other key advocacy bodies like us need to keep the housing conversation alive.

“What we want is a national plan for affordable housing supported by all levels of government, which means serious commitment to investment and infrastructure, guided by the social welfare sector and industry. Key elements of this include: improved housing utility; tax reform; more social housing; adequate income for those on low income; and real collaboration across the sector.”

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