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On low wages and welfare, the rental landscape is bleak

For workers on lower wages there are virtually no affordable homes for rent, reports Genevieve Saville

Lower wage workers and people on welfare assistance could soon be locked out of the rental market, with only 1.6 percent of rental properties on the private rental market affordable to those earning a minimum wage in Australia.

Tenants Victoria’s director of community engagement Farah Farouque said affordable rental supply was becoming increasingly scarce within Victoria, particularly for low income workers. “We’re seeing a new kind of phenomenon of people who have good rental histories and regular work, and yet for all those credentials, they can’t get in to find a property,” she said. “This is not confined to the metropolitan area... look at Frankston! That use to be a place traditionally where people would go for an affordable rental, but the affordable supply of rentals has really contracted there.” Anglicare’s 2022 Rental Affordability report detailed the extent of the crisis, with only 1.6 per cent of rental properties affordable for those on the minimum wage and virtually none affordable for people receiving government assistance.

The organisation's executive director, Kasy Chambers, said in the report: "Across Australia, only five rentals were affordable for a single person on JobSeeker out of more than 45,000 listings. Just one is affordable for a person on Youth Allowance."



Dale Colson, who has a full time job and rents in Frankston, said he was likekly to be priced out of the rental market. “If you are working full time and still cannot afford to put a roof over your head it indicates that there may be something wrong with the system,” he said. “It’s not giving me much hope for the future.” Ms Farouque said Tenants Victoria supported a time-limited cap on rent increases but warned even a rental cap would not fix everything for low income workers. “The problem with the affordable housing challenge is that it’s not going to be solved overnight. It comes from long neglect. We need responses from the local council level, state government level, and the federal government level.”

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