From Patrick Forrest/the Feed
Jane is receiving more or less the maximum amount you can get on the dole – about $350 a week.
But her rent is $375.
To cover payments, her teenage daughter who lives with Jane and is on Austudy, contributes $100 a week.
“If my rent goes up, there is no way that I can afford it,” she said.
Jane has been on welfare since leaving an abusive relationship. Prior to her current rental she’d been homeless, lived in a refuge and at one point – lived in her car.
She’s tried finding work, ticking off 26 job applications last month alone.
“I just wonder why I ended up this way. I’d studied so hard at university. I’d really made my career and because domestic violence has had such a significant impact on my life,” she said.
“I’m living on the fringes of trying to get an education to get myself moving forward.”
A ‘chronic’ shortage of affordable housing across the country
Jane is not alone. Anglicare Australia studied 69,000 rental property listings across the country.
The results pointed to a chronic shortage of affordable housing.
Not a single property was affordable for a single person either payments in any major city or regional centre
Only three share houses were affordable for a single person in a property or share house on Youth Allowance and Newstart.
Rentals became more affordable for those with dependent children on Newstart and Disability Support Pension, but only a fraction of the rental market was available to that budget.
Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said the rental crisis is getting worse.
Housing in Australia is broken.
“Our figures show that affordability is down across the board,” Ms Chambers said.
“There is a huge shortage of secure, affordable rentals. That’s causing record levels of rental stress and even homelessness.
Advocates say there is an affordable housing crisis in Australia.
“And now we’re seeing older Australians getting stuck in expensive and insecure rentals – at a time in their life when they need stability more than ever.”
Chambers said the government must invest more in properties designed for those on very low incomes.
Our social housing shortfall is massive. We need 300,000 new social properties across Australia.
For Jane – who is still looking for work – the state of the rental market means even employment might not relieve the rental stress.
“The problem is that you still live with that fear of, ‘Will I be able to afford to stay here?'”.
If this is bringing up issues for you, there’s always someone you can talk to at Lifeline on 13 11 14. Or if you don’t feel like picking up the phone, they also have an online chat service here or check out ReachOut.