Low-income earners struggling to find affordable dwelling — study

By Gerv Tacadena

Low-income earners are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

Despite the surge in rental listings this year, low-income earners are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads, a recent study by Anglicare found.

According to the study, only around 2.2% of all listed rental properties are affordable to people in the lower income bracket.

Anglicare Sydney CEO Grant Millard said most home seekers have to spend 30% or more of their income to pay rent, leaving them in deep rental stress.

"For those struggling below the poverty line, that doesn’t leave much for food, utilities, transport costs and unexpected bills. In some instances, trying to maintain a home can entrench people in financial need, and hinder families from breaking that cycle of disadvantage," he said.

Anglicare surveyed roughly 69,000 properties available across the country and found that no affordable dwelling is available for Australians living on the Parenting Payment, Disability Pension, Newstart, or Youth Allowance.

"Australia needs to see changes across the housing spectrum. For too many people, paying the rent means they can’t afford to eat decent food, fill a prescription, pay for transport, or buy clothes. Instead of supporting people to live, keeping a roof over their head often means entrenching many in poverty," Millard said.

In a News.com.au report, Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said the unaffordability of rental properties has already affected older Australians who are still renting.

"And now we’re seeing older Australians are getting stuck in expensive and insecure rentals — at a time in their life when they need stability more than ever," she said.

She believes there is a "dire shortage of social housing" for low-income earners. In 2016, 5.3% of all rental properties are affordable to minimum wage earners. This went down to 2.9% in 2017 and 2018 and to 2.2% this year. In Greater Sydney and the Illawarra region, less than 1% of the listed rental properties are accessible to low-income earners.

Chambers believes this could further worsen as more workers are forced into casual work.

"We know that more and more Australians are working casually. Around one million are underemployed. Their plight is likely to be much worse than this Snapshot shows. We need to change the rules on pay so that no person is working full time and living in poverty," she said.

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