Once considered as a haven for families looking for inexpensive housing, Blacktown has now slipped from “acceptable” to “moderately unaffordable” category for renters. That is according to the latest rental affordability index published by Shelter Australia, Community Sector Banking, and SGS Economics and Planning.

The index also shows that most suburbs east of Parramatta are now “severely unaffordable,” with around 14 postcodes around Sydney harbor being “extremely unaffordable”—meaning tenants are paying more than 60 per cent of their average weekly household on rent. Just hitting the 30 per cent mark already signals housing stress. All suburbs in the affordable range are now at least 45 to 50 kilometres from the central business district.

The report paints a bleak picture of rental affordability across Australia as the crisis now extends to professionals.

“Middle-income households are falling into housing stress as high rents chew up incomes that aren’t keeping pace with rising housing costs,” said Adrian Pisarski, executive officer of National Shelter. “It is clear that rental unaffordability is dividing Australia.”

According to an analysis of historical data, there has been a marked deterioration of rental affordability as early as the 2000s, especially in New South Wales and Queensland. It has coincided with the introduction of the 50 per cent discount on capital gains tax in 1999 and the fact that new housing stock was falling behind demand.

“This resulted in a surge of investment in housing, driving up prices, and pushing out first home buyers, forcing them to rent,” said Ellen Witte, an associate at SGS Economics & Planning.

Still, the report concluded that there are signs “affordability levels have stabilised" in Sydney due to slight improvements in houses located in the outer urban fringe.

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