Desperate need for affordable housing
The results of our recent 2016 Rental Affordability Snapshot are extremely concerning.
The rental market in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter, Central Coast and Mid North Coast of NSW is simply not affordable for those who are most vulnerable in these areas- those without work, those who are ageing or living with a disability and those raising children on their own.
Our research, undertaken as part of Anglicare Australia’s national ‘Rental Affordability Snapshot’, looked at over 3000 available rental properties in the area and assessed whether they are affordable and appropriate to a number of groups- and young people have come off the worst.
Out of those 3000 available rental properties in the Central Coast, Hunter and Great Lakes region, none are affordable or appropriate for young people on benefits. This is simply not good enough. Young people who are unemployed are often the most vulnerable group and, without proper supports and accommodation options, can easily fall into a cycle of poverty. 1 in 7 young people in Australia are at risk of homelessness, and a lack of affordable and appropriate housing is a contributing factor.
Our research showed a dim outlook for most other groups in the region as well, including single parents on the minimum wage and people with a disability.
Our Emergency Relief service sees first-hand the struggles these people face when paying a large electricity bill or car registration, which immediately impacts on their ability to pay their regular weekly expenses such as food and rent.
Even with assistance from organisations, such as Samaritans, maintaining a rental property once it is in arrears can be almost impossible for some. Such circumstances force individuals into the cycle of homelessness, often affecting mental health with added stress on families and relationships.
How can we rectify this situation?
I would like to see a tax system reform that multiplies cheaper rental housing and promotes an increase in housing stock that is both affordable and appropriate for those who are vulnerable. Additionally, this election year Samaritans will be calling for a government commitment to grow the supply of social housing.