‘Rent stress’ for disadvantaged


NO neighbourhoods in Melbourne or Victoria’s regional cities are affordable for a single person on Centrelink, single pensioner, or single parent on a low part-time income, Council to Homeless Persons CEO Jenny Smith says.

The latest Rental Affordability Index shows households with incomes of $50,000 a year and looking for a two-bedroom rental must move out at least 115 kilometres to escape “unaffordable” rent. This is defined as paying more than 30 per cent of income on rent.

Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula are seen as being “extremely” or “severely” unaffordable for single pensioners who would be forced to pay 65 per cent of their income to rent a one-bedroom flat in Frankston or 45 per cent on the peninsula.

Low-income earners paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent are regarded as being in rent stress – a confronting issue on the peninsula which has the second highest rate of elderly residents in the state.

The situation has prompted the Council to Homeless Persons to call for 14,500 new social housing properties state-wide, with “at least 1800 in the Frankston and Mornington Peninsula in order to house the families currently on the waiting list”, Ms Smith said.

In Frankston, a single part-time worker on parent benefits looking to rent a two-bedroom house would be paying 45 per cent of their income (severely unaffordable); a $70,000 a year household would be paying 38-60 per cent of its income; and a single person on Newstart would be paying 69 per cent of their income for a one-bedroom flat.

On the peninsula, a pensioner couple would be paying 36 per cent of their income for a one-bedroom dwelling, and a single person on Newstart would be paying 69 per cent for the same dwelling.

“This is a problem that needs both state and federal governments to pull together to fully resolve – and the federal government is currently asleep at the housing affordability wheel,” Ms Smith said.

“In their next budget we are calling on the Victorian government to step in and accelerate its social housing program.

“Private rental is now out of reach of low income residents and more and more are living on the precipice. They are spending so much on housing that they cannot afford other essentials, including food and medication.

“The good news is that the state government can afford [to pay more for public housing] with tax revenue from stamp duty nearly doubling over the past five years to $6.2 billion a year.”

Ms Smith said “windfall gains” to the budget from “skyrocketing house prices” should be used to lessen pain caused by the “housing crisis”.

She said a “dark flipside” to economic growth was fierce competition for rental properties with those able to afford them “crowding out those left behind with homelessness as a consequence”.

First published in the Mornington News – 12 December 2017


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