Budget must address low-cost rental housing to help battlers: Australians for Affordable Housing

Wednesday 09 May 2012

Budget must address low-cost rental housing to help battlers: Australians for Affordable Housing

By Jonathan Chancellor
Tuesday, 08 May 2012

Without measures to address housing costs, Australians for Affordable Housing says tonight’s federal budget will fail those struggling with the single biggest household expense. 

“With one in 10 households in housing stress, rents increasing at twice the rate of inflation and almost 250,000 people on public housing waiting lists across the country, a true ‘battler’s budget’ would be investing in more low-cost rental housing and addressing the tax breaks that drive up house prices,” says Australians for Affordable Housing campaign manager Sarah Toohey.

She made the comments after research released by Anglicare Australia last week showed not one rental property in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Darwin or Adelaide was affordable to a single person receiving Newstart, Youth Allowance or Austudy, and very few were affordable to households earning the minimum wage. 

“While the Treasurer would argue that delivering a surplus means the RBA can cut interest rates, interest rates are only half the story when it comes to housing affordability, and only third of all households actually have a mortgage,” Toohey says. 

“A third of Australian households rent their home and won’t benefit one bit from interest rate reductions.

“The rental market is also where house stress is highest and one in four households struggle to make the rent”. 

Toohey suggests the federal government could deliver immediate rent relief to almost 100,000 households with an increase in the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance, and make a down payment on the long term by investing in a $2.5 billion affordable housing growth fund.

“This is the kind of investment we need to see in tonight’s Budget for those really struggling with the cost of living,” says Toohey. 

The Australians for Affordable Housing 2012-13 budget statement can be found here.

- Jonathan Chancellor, Property Observer