Pensioner housing woes worsening

Australia’s housing affordability crisis worsens each year, and the latest damning report on rental affordability reveals how shockingly few affordable homes are available for age pensioners and low-income earners.

The Anglicare 2018 Rental Affordability Index takes a snapshot of thousands of properties listed for rent around Australia. It then measures this against the 14 types of households on low incomes. These include single parents, people receiving Disability Support Pensions, Newstart, the Age Pension and those earning minimum wage.

Of the 67,365 properties listed for rent across Australia, just over 1 per cent were affordable for a single person receiving the Age Pension and, perhaps more disturbingly, only three were affordable for a single person receiving Newstart.

Currently, there are around 250,000 Australians on a full Age Pension renting their home.

YourLifeChoices research shows that the largest source of income for 40 per cent of the 5500 respondents the Age Pension, and just under 10 per cent of them rent privately, with many saying they often run out of money prior to each pension payment.

The Anglicare report states: “The paucity of properties affordable and suitable for single people on the Aged Pension is cause for alarm. It reflects the flaws in the system, where the Aged Pension is now really only viable to live on if you are living in and have paid off your own home. Concerns about the sharp rise in the number of older women experiencing homelessness correlate with this finding.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of homeless people between 2011 and 2016 rose from 102,000 to over 116,000.

Low-income earners and age pensioners are not only competing with each other for scarce accommodation, but also with the one in three Australians currently renting, many of whom are on much higher incomes.

“Australia’s housing market is a catastrophe so dire that it has become an international joke,” writes Executive Director of Anglicare, Kasy Chambers.

“Sydney and Melbourne now outstrip London, New York and Los Angeles for expensive housing.”

Rent prices have increased on average by 3.3 per cent across the country.

Anglicare puts the onus for this crisis on the Government’s policies that have, so far, only served to benefit housing investors.

According to the report snapshot: “The idea was that supporting people to invest in houses and rent them out through the private market would provide more homes more efficiently than governments directly building or subsidising low-cost public or other forms of affordable housing.

“But these policies haven’t worked. The result is that thousands of Australians have been priced out of either renting or buying.”

This too, is reflected in the rapidly rising number of elderly homeless people.

“People on the lowest incomes, who only have the option to rent, are the hardest hit. The Federal Government spends billions more on subsidising wealth accumulation for property investors than it does on public housing and homelessness services. We need to reverse this situation, and act now to create enough affordable and secure homes for people on low incomes, including those who are already homeless,” the report said.

How does this affect you? What proportion of your income do you pay in rent?

Related articles:
Over 55 and homeless
Housing system broken and unfair
Rent assistance – 20 March 2018

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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