RENTING in regional Australia might seem more affordable than the city - but the latest snapshot from Anglicare shows people on certain types of income support would find it impossible to afford a suitable place to live in the bush.
Throw in a higher unemployment rate, lesser infrastructure, services, and public transport options, a long wait for public housing, and entrenched health and social issues, and the annual Rental Affordability Snapshot shows the nation’s affordability crisis is not limited to the big smoke.
In regional NSW, the picture is particularly bleak on the North Coast, with the report revealing “a very disappointing and grim picture for any low income persons.” Meanwhile rentals in the Great Lakes and Taree region were not available for most income types.
The rental snapshot taken on April 1 and 2 this year showed “that single people on Youth Allowance and Newstart would find it almost impossible to find an affordable home anywhere in Australia, whether regional or metropolitan”. The survey also highlighted the issues faced by people on a Disability Support Pension and the spike in difficulty faced by single parent families who are moved from the Single Parenting Payment onto Newstart Allowance once their child turns eight.
Nationally, over 67,700 private rentals were surveyed, including 13,700 in regional areas. Affordable rentals - ones that account for less than 30 per cent of the household’s income per week - were, on the surface, more available outside the city.
But the snapshot showed a desperate situation for single regional people on Newstart, Youth Allowance, Disability Support, Aged Pension or Parenting Payments.
A couple living in a regional area with two children on the minimum wage might have access to about half (46.7pc) of the available rental properties, but that figure drops to 8pc if that family is on Newstart.
Across the giant Orana, Far West and Central West region in NSW, although there were a “considerable number of affordable options for low-waged households”, some household types reliant on income support had very few rentals to select from, and some of the affordable properties were located in isolated areas.
“Although affordable housing may be more readily available in rural parts of NSW, it is not always appropriate. The consequences of a housing shortage have long-term effects which impact on a range of government services, as they attempt to address poor educational outcomes for children and the breakdown of families and relationships.”