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Help needed for renters

Many low income earners in Australia struggle to keep a roof over their heads according to new Productivity Commission report, the Catholic Weekly reports.

Catholic leaders are calling for the Federal Government to address the rising number of Australians struggling to pay their rent.

The Productivity Commission’s latest report found the number of low-income households in rental stress has doubled in the past two decades, with the fastest growth in households that include at least one person aged over 65, an Indigenous person or a person with a disability or long-term health condition.

It found that two thirds of low-income renters in Australia are in rental stress, defined as spending more than 30 per cent of one’s income on rent.

More than 1 million low-income households (2.65 million people) rented in the private market in 2018, a figure that has more than doubled over the past 20 years, with 170,000 having less than $250 available each week after paying rent.

Vinnies National Council CEO Toby O’Connor said the report’s figures were “disheartening”.

“We work every day with those in rental stress and we know that affordable, safe and secure housing is just not accessible for many low-income households,” he said.

“We know, from our own research, that housing instability is the most significant driver for people making repeated requests for assistance – for each change in address, requests for assistance increase by 26 percent.”

Vinnies is calling on the Federal Government to increase the Newstart allowance, increase funding under the Commonwealth Rent Assistance scheme and develop a national strategy to tackle housing affordability.

Chair of the Australian Social Justice Council Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv condemned the plight of “who were battling to keep the roof over their heads, wondering if they can make the next rent or mortgage payment”.


Spotlight on low-income renters (The Catholic Weekly)