Tuesday, 07 December 2010 00:00

Housing market fails low income Australians

UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said low income Australians are being pushed further to the margins as the housing market fails to meet the needs of an increasing number of families and young people.

Commenting today on the release of a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Young People and Children in Social Housing, Ms Hatfield Dodds said more and more people are falling on hard times in the heavy competition for social and low cost accommodation.
“When people who have a job can’t afford modest housing, things are looking grim for unemployed and underemployed Australians. Particularly vulnerable people including young people moving on from Out Of Home Care, single parents and Indigenous people,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“This has been the case for the past decade, yet current fiscal measures continue to favour private property investors at the expense of low to middle income earners who need a place to live.
“While the Government has made an historic investment in social housing over the past three years and increased support for the cost of housing via family payments, measures are also needed that will encourage a more responsive housing market for low and middle income home owners and renters.
“We need to look at how the tax system impacts on affordable housing. Tax breaks can inflate housing prices.
“We also need to look at the adequacy of income support to meet the real costs of housing. Currently the single rate of unemployment benefits is $234.85 a week with a maximum rent assistance of $57.60 a week. The average weekly rent in Australia is $364.00. But the average is as high as $560 in Darwin and $440 in Canberra,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for low income private renter households, housing costs increased by 34%, and gross income rose by 64%, from 1997-98 to 2007-08. As a result the proportion of low income public renter households in rental stress increased from 5% to 17% during that time.
The proportion of homes sold that were affordable to moderate income households declined from 36% in 2003-04 to 27% in 2007-08.
The number of homes sold, that were affordable to moderate income households declined from 24 homes per 1,000 moderate income households in 2003-04 to 17 homes per 1,000 households in 2007-08.
The proportion of homes sold, that were affordable to low income households declined from 15% in 2003-04 to 7% in 2007-08.
Source: ABS 1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010 (September 2010)
The UnitingCare network provides services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in
remote, regional and metropolitan communities. The network employs 35,000 people and is supported by the work of 24,000 volunteers.
Contact: Judith Tokley 02 6249 6717 / 0408 824 306